Remarkable people: Prof James Lovelock

The father of Gaia

A week or so ago, the BBC under their Beautiful Minds series, screened a programme about James Ephraim Lovelock, more popularly known as Professor Jim Lovelock.

Prof. James Lovelock

(Picture taken from this article – in itself well worth reading.)

The programme demonstrated that Lovelock’s mind is more than beautiful, it is still capable, at 90 years of age, of thinking in ways that are very rare in today’s societies where conformity is such a powerful force.

As always, WikiPedia has an excellent reference on Prof. Lovelock and I encourage you to read it plus Lovelock’s own website which makes up in content what it may lack for presentation!

Luckily there is an extract from the BBC programme on YouTube – please watch this and reflect on exactly what Lovelock is saying.

And if you are up for more, then settle down for thirteen minutes and watch this next video.

James Lovelock is the Darwin of our times.

Now to put this into some context (this is me speaking as a layman!).

The Western world is, as I write this on the 21st April, breathing a sigh of relief that the effect of the volcanic eruption on the skies is diminishing.  Here’s a BBC headline:

European airports have reopened for business, almost a week after a cloud of ash from an Icelandic volcano paralysed the air travel industry.

Within a couple of weeks everyone will saying it’s business as usual for air transportation.

But back to the planet and the effect of mankind on atmospheric temperatures.  As has been predicted by many scientists, warming of the atmosphere will cause the ice caps to melt and that, in turn, will cause more volcanoes that are under these ice caps to blow.

Here’s an extract from an article on global warming and volcanoes:

Caveat time: as far as I know, there is no evidence to suggest that Eyjafjallajokull’s eruption has anything to do with human-induced climate change. Saying that this eruption was caused by greenhouse gases would be utterly misguided.

But Hugh Tuffen of Lancaster University in the United Kingdom thinks it might not be long before melting glaciers on volcanoes in places like the Andes mountains, North America’s Cascades, Alaska’s Aleutian Islands — and yes, even Iceland — could release enough pressure from supercharged magma chambers to increase the frequency and intensity of volcanic eruptions.

In short: our greenhouse gas-emitting habits will eventually increase Earth’s volcanic activity.

It may not be long before we see things ramp up either; according to Huffen, activity could increase significantly before the year 2100.

Think about this.

By Paul Handover

5 thoughts on “Remarkable people: Prof James Lovelock

  1. Paul:
    Methane eruptions under the sea are the most spectacular proximal, potential danger connected to oceanic greenhouse warming. They caused massive tsunamis in the North Atlantic 7,000 years ago, or so.

    As far as volcano are concerned, it’s not just the melting of the icecaps, but, I would hold, the drying up of the volcano (releasing pressure) which could be a problem (as happened with the Saint Helen when a quake induced land slide reduced pressure).


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