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The Gaian hypothesis proposes that all living and non living elements of the earth create a complex environmental system that acts similar to a single organism.
Dr James Lovelock formulated this idea of a whole earth organism during the 1960s. He named it after the Greek goddess of the earth, Gaia, who nurtures everything in life and death.

The hypothesis states that all organisms within the Earth or Gaian environment modify and add to the environment to make conditions more hospitable for each organism and all others inhabiting within.
By doing so that conditions within the environment have remained stable for millions of years so that the environment has never wandered too far toward conditions that would destroy life on Earth or Gaia.

James Lovelock suggested that all organisms create a feedback system that regulates conditions automatically.
His arguments are upheld by the fact that the atmosphere has remained constant in composition throughout Earth's history, when in fact it should show instability.

The seas of the world remain at the same level of salinity, regardless the amount of salt constantly added from landmasses and vulcanism.

Temperature of the Earth has remained stable within certain parameters regardless that there has been a gradual
increase in the energy output of the sun.

James Lovelock informs us that this constancy is solely down to the input by all the forms of life that inhabit the Earth or Gaian environment.
But this balance is just that, if something upsets the balance then the natural scales will tip and the stable environmental conditions will be upset.
This is where human activity and its effects have to be understood.

By radically changing the environment, such as adding greater quantities of Carbon dioxide into the atmosphere or destroying vast tracts of rain forests, we are upsetting the delicate environmental balance.
For millions of years our Gaian Earth has endeavoured to lock away Carbon dioxide through natural accumulations by organisms.
These organisms have lived and died and in doing so locked up Carbon dioxide as coal or oil. Others have taken carbon combined with calcium to create shells and bodies that when they die eventually become cliffs of chalk or mountains or caves of limestone.

Gaia needed the Carbon dioxide taken out of the environmental system, due to its atmospheric heating effect so that the environment remained stable and effective. Now we are unlocking it by the millions of tonnes a year.

Along with other destructive practices we are stretching the environment to breaking point.

We are now at the point where we need to step back or our natural systems will react and in a way we may not wish it to happen.

It is fairly safe to say that humans will not destroy life within Gaia, unless we sterilise the whole of the environment. Life will always survive and gradually claw back to stable system again.
Unfortunately though if it ever got to that point we as a race plus many other denizens of Gaia may not be around to see this.

The point with a balancing system such as Gaia, if need be it will purge the environment of the destructive element i.e. Humans. To once again regain the natural stable balance.

We hold the future in our hands and the future is a richer, greener planet.

If you are interested in knowing more about the possible lash back by Gaia see the review of James Lovelock's latest book.

For a simple Gaian principle in practice, visit Daisy World

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