James Lovelock’s theory of Gaia–first proposed in the late 1960s, which argues that the earth is best understood as a superorganism that is, in some sense, “alive”–is no longer dismissed as New Age quackery. But recently, Lovelock has evolved from planetary scientist to doomsday prophet.
To Lovelock, the whole idea of sustainable development is wrong-headed: “We should be thinking about sustainable retreat.” In his view, we have two choices: we can live in equilibrium with the planet as hunter-gatherers, or we can live as a very sophisticated high-tech civilization. In any case, there is no turning back now. “Like it or not, we are the brains and nervous system of Gaia,” According to Lovelock, “We have now assumed responsibility for the welfare of the planet. How shall we manage it?”
All quotes are from Jeff Goodell’s book How to Cool the Planet.