The Vanishing Face of Gaia. A Final Warning by James Lovelock: reviewed

This text is thought-provoking and infuriating in equal measure. Written by an eminent scientist, it raises as many questions as it answers. The problem is perhaps the scope of the book. Without footnotes, it covers a huge amount of ground, interspersing science with political argument.

The work takes an alarmist view of climate change, departing from the scientific consensus, and attacking much of the green movement. Sensibly, it raises awkward questions about population growth and mass consumption. Less certainly, it endorses nuclear power and attacks renewable energy. Confusingly, it brings various religious ideas into the discussion.

The reader is left alarmed and uncertain by the end of the book. The text is well-written, but there is something unpersuasive about it. Perhaps it is because the perspective taken is an Anglocentric one- too much of the global problem is analysed from Devon, and there is an excessive reliance on anecdotes. Acknowledging the limits to growth seems more prudent than accepting the prescriptions of this odd and perplexing volume.


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