Just finished this book. Not a large tome, and perhaps unfortunately (for so many reasons) released at about the time that the whole Greenhouse story gets a bump in media coverage, which kinda steals Lovelock’s thunder. He has, of course, been saying all this for decades and only now are the (heh) scientific types coming to terms with the accuracy of his predictions.
He largely avoids, in my opinion, the only real solution to the troubles we humans have in store; i.e. a mass reduction in the world population (by any and possibly all means) and works hard to convince us, and perhaps himself, that technology can solve all the problems created by our mass and by our profligacy with fossil carbon.
Interestingly, I think he’s killed my last few attachments to wind turbine technology. He makes a fair case for proving that the costs of these ‘renewable’ power sources are too high, both in terms of energy used in the production of the technology, and in terms of the environmental impact – especially the sterilisation of land for erection, access and maintenance roads and HV connections. Up until now I’ve been an advocate of these embedded generators, but I see now from his rigorous analyisis that they are little more than a sticking plaster, and a sop for the government to show ‘they are doing something’. I’ve always been an advocate of nuclear generation (which horrifies some Druids, I know) as a means to fend off the inevitable power riots that will result from the equally inevitable failure of our national power strategy, and his arguements have not only sustained my advocacy but increased it. He does deal with other renewables, but counters their arguements with fair comment on their adequacy in comparisoon with our current and forecast demands.
It is clear to me – was before and is even clearer now – that we humans are in for hard times. I recall, some decades ago now, folk at my old college yelling that we must ‘save the planet’. I told them then, the planet is in no danger and will survive us hugely. It will die when Sol becomes too old to keep his growing stomach in, and burns the world up. Humanity, however, was in terrific danger, but I couldn’t then and can’t now decide whether it’s worth saving. The ‘verse will continue it’s quest for self understanding, even if we are gone from it, perhaps learning more in our loss. My own ego would prefer that we were important enough to the ‘verse that we were worth saving of course, and I do fear for the life miss will live as the land warms / cools / dances wildly about…
Lovelock argues that we must generate sufficient power from nuclear fission to survive the ‘Mad Max’ world that is to come, until we can use nuclear fusion. When that might be, well who knows? My own feeling is that even using fission we are liable to run out of living space, water, patience long before we run out of power. He doesn’t really address the loss of fossil resources in terms of plastics, medicine etc either, all of which will create dissent and disruption. Nevertheless, a good book, not too academic and eminently readable.
My new book is called ‘Crow‘, by Boría Sax. I was given this as a birthday present, and I wasn’t sure about it at first. It has turned out to be quite a decent read however, all about the crow, raven, magpie family; their lives, legends and mystical attributes.