The deification of Earth
James Lovelock’s argument that Gaia is a living organism with its own interests — which it will ‘pursue’ against humans — exposes the mystical, anti-human streak in contemporary environmentalism.
by Rob Lyons | Issue No.23 April 2009
The king of televised natural history, David Attenborough, announced last week that he has become a patron of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), an organisation campaigning for ‘stabilisation and gradual population decrease globally and in the UK’. The argument of the OPT and other greens is that there are simply too many people wanting too lavish a lifestyle for the planet to cope. A warming, polluted planet will lead to starvation and disease - if the collapse in oil supplies doesn’t get us first.
The solution to this epidemic of people, we are told, is a drastic cut in the human population. According to Attenborough, announcing his new role, ‘I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more’. Another elder statesman, and one of the leading and most explicit proponents of the idea that the world is overpopulated, has been James Lovelock, creator of the ‘Gaia hypothesis’. Back in 1974, in his first book on the subject, Gaia, Lovelock wrote cheerfully: ‘Assuming the present per capita use of energy, we can guess that at less than 10,000million we should still be in a Gaian world. But somewhere beyond this figure, especially if the consumption of energy increases, lies the final choice of permanent enslavement on the prison hulk of the spaceship Earth, or gigadeath to enable the survivors to restore a Gaian world.’