“The GAIA ( Greek Goddess) is a theory of the Earth as a living organism – where the living and dead materials are interrelated.” ~ Dr James Lovelock

Overall, the Gaia Theory is a compelling new way of understanding life on our planet. It argues that we are far more than just the “Third Rock from the Sun,” situated precariously between freezing and burning up.

The theory asserts that living organisms and their inorganic surroundings have evolved together as a single living system that greatly affects the chemistry and conditions of Earth’s surface. Some scientists believe that this “Gaian system” self-regulates global temperature, atmospheric content, ocean salinity, and other factors in an “automatic” manner. Earth’s living system appears to keep conditions on our planet just right for life to persist!

One useful analogy that has been proposed for understanding Gaia is the California redwood tree, Sequoia gigantea. These trees which stand in great groves along the northern coast of California and elsewhere can stand as high as 300 feet and weigh as much as 2000 tons. Some of them are more than 3000 years old.

Redwood trees are like Gaia because 97% of their tissues are dead. The wood of the trunk and the bark of the tree are dead. Only a small rim of cells along the periphery of the trunk is living. The trunk of the tree is similar to the Earth’s lithosphere with a thin layer of living organisms spread across its surface. The bark, like the atmosphere, protects the living tissues, and allows for the exchange of biologically important gases, such as carbon dioxide and oxygen.

There is no doubt that a redwood tree is a living entity. While much of the Earth may be considered “non-living”, the fact that all of these non-living parts are involved to some extent in living processes suggests that the whole Earth is alive, just like a redwood tree.

“Everything is the product of one universal creative effort. There is nothing dead in Nature. Everything is organic and living, and therefore the whole world appears to be a living organism.” ~Seneca(65 AD)

2 Responses

  1. I didn’t realize that, I did know that tree’s are our source for Oxygen, but I also wish that people in our parks, who take tree’s that die would plant new ones. Evan

  2. A great post and summary of Lovelock’s theory.
    It’s a shame this idea has not spread more widely through social consciousness. The Gaia Theory provides a useful way of highlighting the importance of sustainability and respect for the environment.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: