The Gaia Theory posits that the organic and inorganic components of Planet Earth have evolved together as a single living, self-regulating system. It suggests that this living system has automatically controlled global temperature, atmospheric content, ocean salinity, and other factors, that maintains its own habitability. In a phrase, “life maintains conditions suitable for its own survival.” In this respect, the living system of Earth can be thought of analogous to the workings of any individual organism that regulates body temperature, blood salinity, etc.
Walking 4,6 kilometres along the coast of Dartmouth, under a gorgeous weather, sunny at times helps us realise the age of the Earth: 4,600 million years. Life has taken a long time to develop, and humans haven’t come on to the picture only until recently. Gazing at the grandeur of the Sea, we see that the relation between Humans and the planet, that rather than a major guiding principle we are just another small player of the game of life. Our arrogant attitude doesn’t change the fact that we can disappear at any time and the dynamics of the Earth rather than suffer will rejoice on our absence. But the point is that we are still here, and that we can mend the way we live, we can self regulate, adapt to the current conditions and learn to live in harmony with the world. To do this we need to understand the mechanics of life. That the Planet is a living organism, that reacts to stimuli, and can’t take it all, but rather we need to set up boundaries to our greed, restore the broken balance. One of the key qualities of life is the autopoiesis, or the capacity for self making.
Recipe for a Gaian system.
1. Living organism which grow exponentially.
2. Natural selection.
3. Organism which affect their physical and chemical environment.
4. Constraints or bounds to organisms’ grow set by the environment.
Adapted from J.E. Lovelock, ‘Ages of Gaia’ OUP 1988