The Death of Gaia

Gaia

Gaia

It is known scientifically that the Earth System, or Gaia if you will, is organized and functions similarly to other scales of biology, including organisms and old-growth forests. Gaia is a self-regulating, reproducing life-form, and as such is alive. As industrial human growth destroys Gaia’s naturally evolved ecosystem organs, the human family is failing to embrace a rich and truthful deep ecology understanding (long known by indigenous peoples) of a living Earth, risking biosphere collapse. Not enough progress is being made on sufficient ecological solutions to sustain Gaia such as protecting and restoring natural ecosytems (including a ban on old-growth forest logging), ending the use of fossil fuels, and ridding the world of war and inequity. Both powerful science deniers, as well as celebrity posers promoting shallow ecology, ensure Gaia’s demise for their own selfish benefit. Thus while Earth is alive, sadly she is dying.

Earth is alive

Earth is alive like other organic life across scales

Larry: [to Jennings, while high] Okay. That means that our whole solar system could be, like one tiny atom in the fingernail of some other giant being. [Jennings nods] This is too much! That means one tiny atom in my fingernail could be–
Jennings: Could be one little tiny universe. – Animal House

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who!

“Earth – like organic life across scales – is alive yet needlessly dying as human industrial growth overwhelms natural ecosystems.” – Dr. Glen Barry

 

Earth is a living organism some call Gaia. This Earth System – all life’s one shared biosphere – is composed of coupled ecosystems that cycle energy and matter, self-regulating like all organic life.

Across scales of biological phenomena there exist discontinuities; boundaries which can be abstracted, that differentiate a life form. Throughout the continuum of cells, organisms, plant communities, and even natural ecosystems, many entities can be said to be alive. The Earth is the penultimate life-form.

Gaia is alive.

Think of land and natural vegetational communities as similar to tissue in an animal, blood and water are synonymous, the atmosphere like cellular fluid. Wildlife including humans is a special type of cell. All life across scale is coded in DNA, the original programming language.

Earth, like the human body, is intricately perfect; both engineered through epics of iterative evolution to be resilient and reproduce.

Earth’s reproductive cycle can best be thought of as the re-radiation of species diversity post mass extinction upon the same framework of inert non-organic Earth. By such a measure Earth is only a handful of generations old. Or perhaps Earth’s reproduction involves exo-biology seeding of planets through rare dispersion events. In either case the Earth system reproduces.

Old-growth forests are alive too

Old-growth forests are alive too

As originally devised in James Lovelock’s “Gaia Hypothesis”, the conception of a living Earth goes beyond metaphor; and is a self-evident, emergent property of natural ecosystems’ cycles. Cells, microbes, forests, soil, oceans, water, air, plants, and wildlife are all miraculously alive, even as they create the conditions for life at other levels of organization.

It is profoundly beautiful that life begets life. For far too long the concept of living natural ecosystems has been denied and denigrated. A naturally evolved old-growth forest ecosystem is no less an organism than you or me, or Gaia. Such complex, tightly-coupled super-organisms make life possible.

Let me be clear: cells are not organisms, nor are old-growth forests exactly like the biosphere, yet they are remarkably similar. Each are bounded, with sub-systems cycling energy and matter, to remain intact (alive) while reproducing.

Earth – like organic life across scales – is alive yet needlessly dying as industrial growth overwhelms natural ecosystems.

Natural ecosystems are being murdered in a plague of democratic resource gluttony. In a relatively short time geologically, industrialism radiated from Northern Europe in waves of ecological colonialism. The concept that nature exists only as resources to be consumed is now universally embraced.

Millions of year old natural ecosystems that constitute Gaia’s living flesh continue to be liquidated in an ecocidal death wish misconstrued as “development”.

Under such circumstances of runaway exponential growth – amidst resource scarcity driven perma-war and grotesque inequity – “certifying” natural ecosystem destruction, or waxing eloquently as one over-consumes, is even more dangerous than denying climate, ecology, and other scientific truths.

Leo's over-consumption sets a bad example

Leo’s over-consumption sets a bad example

Donald Trump’s fact free world of anti-science, authoritarian demagoguery, and Scott Walker’s evisceration of education while stifling climate and conservation science; are equally as dangerous as Rainforest Action Network benefactor Chris Noth’s (Mr. Big) old-growth mahogany laced bar (aptly named “The Cutting Room”), and Leonardo DiCaprio prattling on about the reality of climate change from the back of private jets and yachts. Each in their own way are colluding in Gaia’s murder for personal benefit.

Old-growth forest logging must end. Natural ecosystems be restored. Fossil fuels ended. A steady state economy achieved. And equity, peace, and justice embraced.

Or Gaia dies. And being ends.

Only profound, radical, science-based social change that embraces a deep ecology vision of a living Earth, by reversing natural ecosystem loss, will prove adequate to avoid biosphere collapse.

You may also like...

14 Responses

  1. Ricardo Cosarinsky says:

    Not only Earth is alive but is a Conscious being as we are, and since Her birth She knows Her destiny, Her Cosmic mission, and in millions of years of evolution She saw entire civilizations coming and going, entire continents going under water and others up to the Sun, and is not the first time that a civilization treat Mother Earth in this way, but for sure is the last, the New Earth that is birthing is beyond imagination.
    It is a principle o the evolution: a new possibility can manifest itself only when the old order has reached the point of the impossible. Were it otherwise- and it is important to comprehend this- the divine Action would be little more than a kind of divine comedy. This applies also to the world as a whole: it has to reach the impossible point if the transition to the New World must become possible. But such a transition then happens all of a sudden- lust like a child after a long, hidden growth in the womb of its mother reaches the point of impossible further gestation and is suddenly born in a kind of cataclysmic happening. All sings point to the fact that the old world has arrived at the impossible point. ”And at the end there will be a miracle “

  2. Robert Landbeck says:

    “Only profound, radical, science-based social change that embraces a deep ecology vision of a living Earth, by reversing natural ecosystem loss, will prove adequate to avoid biosphere collapse.” Yet there is no such prospect of such change taking place under any existing political process or ideology. But one can look elsewhere!

    For the most radical catalyst for that change, one that meets all Enlightenment criteria, has been described on the web as the most profound, potent NVDA never imagined possible until now. One able to advance peace, justice, change and progress and which entrenched elites and the modern corporate/national security, surveillance state can neither stop nor interfere with. And I’m TESTING this new potential out now for myself. For those able to imagine outside the box of history itself, nothing short of an intellectual, moral and religious revolution is getting under way. More at http://www.energon.org.uk

  3. AndyTreee says:

    Thank you, very good. That’s why I’m an active member of the Green Party in the UK! Best to all who promote these understandings and take action

  4. David says:

    So true posted to FaceBook.

    I’m reading “The Hidden Life of Trees” (what they feel and how they communicate). Most poignant.

    Regards,

    David

    • Jeff Fish says:

      David; As an arborist who specializes in tree pathology , over the last 35 years or so I have come to the most profound conclusions of the subject matter that you are reading. If only the masses knew. The gentle immobile denizens of this planet speak in a language we can not hear or understand but conscious they are and much more than most know.

  5. Marc Sommer says:

    O yeah still alive.
    More or less 1.5 miljon liveforms on it
    More than 200 per day vanishing for ever , ’cause we need space
    At a certain moment it doesn’t matter how many species are left, then simply the chain will be broken

  6. MFK says:

    I recently found out that at least Survival International also had the same opinion as you :the WWF is a bunch of money gathering capitalist in favour of the richest.It won survivals Greenwashing of the year award the 2ndofmay grMKF Curacao

  7. I have total trust that Gaia will survive. If humanity does self-destruct, and we take with us a significant part of the biosphere – and I sincerely hope we won’t do that – then as i see it Gaia will shake herself thoroughly, like a dog getting rid of a plague of fleas, and carry on, all the better for the radical change.

  8. The earth is not dying, we are just making her inhabitable for most carbon based life forms, including us.

    Cells that can self-sustain are, in fact, organisms. Your Animal House quote agrees with me, against your cell assertion.

    I am not defending corporate destruction, as I resist it every day. But you need to be clearer with your biological statements and more responsible.

    Still alive indeed. Marc Sommer above forgets that over 90% of species went extinct after a massive asteroid strike, and life survived. While we are certainly accelerating the process, species always go extinct. The average one only lives 5 million years, and to my original point, guess what time it is for humans.

  9. Jeff Fish says:

    The fact that this planet is a living organism has been known and understood to me for many years. Although, how I see this situation now is negative to the utmost extreme, it is in my opinion the way it is. We are far past the point of no return and an imminent extinction event is on the horizon. This planet will retain the basic properties of structure to allow another form of biosphere to evolve over time and that is just the way it is. This massive ball rolling down hill called civilization could never be altered in time to save us. Only the intervention of a higher form of intelligence could do that and it is our only hope.

  10. Hartson Doak says:

    This planet will survive humanity. It has survive several mass extinction events. It is the humans that are endanger of killing off the majority of themselves. Global warming will disrupt weather to exacerbate droughts, flooding, forest fires, etc. The oceans will rise and flood the highest density cities on the planet. There will be massive starvation, plagues, and fighting over resources. 2/3 of humanity will die. Then we will HAVE to work with MOTHER for the rest to survive.

  11. Karin says:

    And not a word about animal agriculture destroying Gaia. Read UN FAO “Livestocks Long Shadow’ or watch ‘Cowspiracy’ on Netflix.

    • user says:

      We are well aware of the impacts of industrial agriculture including animals. This is a high-level essay where details were not provided on specific threats. We can’t cover everything in a couple pages, but have addressed the topic numerous times in recent essays.

  12. EARTH ISN’T Dying BUT; it won’t be sustainable for life!! Animal species are Already dying & WHAT about the DRASTIC weather changes; which get worse; by the year!!!

    IT’S OVER…LOVE JIST Love ;)*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.