Daisyworld[ edit ] James Lovelock sans daisies To go some way towards countering criticism of his first book's  lack of a plausible mechanism, Lovelock's proposed the model of Daisyworld,  a simplified ecosystem made up of only two elements, black daisies which absorb light and heat their environment, and white daisies that reflect light and cool their environment. At higher temperatures, black daisies suffer from the heat and are impaired until they eventually die.
Similarly, white daisies cannot cope with low temperatures. With a heat and light input which starts weak then steadily becomes stronger, this planet tends towards an equilibrium temperature and the varying proportion of black to white daisies will maintain the planet at that equilibrium temperature. This is in contrast to a bare gray planet, whose temperature would steadily rise with the increased input of heat and light. The model remains valid even with many modifications daisy-consuming rabbits; meteor strikes killing most of the daisies, "cheat" grey daisies which produce no pigment and have a higher rate of growth and reproduction However, Lovelock intended Daisyworld as a starting point.
It provides a model of how a Gaian system might work. It does not prove that the Earth functions as a Gaian system, and does not fully address the assertion that the emergence of a Gaian system is incompatible with current views on evolution. Gaia's advocates are engaged in asking "How do results from Daisyworld transfer to the real world?
Initial scientific criticism[ edit ] Dr. Ford Doolittle is one of the most well-known critics of the Gaia hypothesis. Richard Dawkins, in his book The Extended Phenotype, wrote in affirmation of Doolittle's critique of the hypothesis, arguing that organisms cannot act in a concerted effort, as it would require foresight and planning from them on a global scale.
James Kirchner criticized the hypothesis for its imprecision, asserting that Lovelock had not presented one particular theory, but rather four separate, but closely linked, hypotheses: Co-evolutionary Gaia — that life and the environment evolve in a coupled way, which Kirchner claims was not new and already accepted scientifically.
Homeostatic Gaia — that life maintained the stability of the natural environment, and that such stability allowed life to continue to exist. For example, when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise, plants are able to grow better and thus remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Other biological effects and feedbacks exist,  but the extent to which these mechanisms have stabilized and modified the Earth's overall climate is largely not known.
The Gaia hypothesis is sometimes viewed from significantly different philosophical perspectives. Some environmentalists view it as an almost conscious process, in which the Earth's ecosystem is literally viewed as a single unified organism.
Some evolutionary biologists, on the other hand, view it as an undirected emergent property of the ecosystem: as each individual species pursues its own self-interest, their combined actions tend to have counterbalancing effects on environmental change. Proponents of this view sometimes point to examples of life's actions in the past that have resulted in dramatic change rather than stable equilibrium, such as the conversion of the Earth's atmosphere from a reducing environment to an oxygen-rich one.
Depending on how strongly the case is stated, the hypothesis conflicts with mainstream neo-Darwinism. Most biologists would accept Daisyworld-style homeostasis as possible, but would certainly not accept the idea that this equates to the whole biosphere acting as one organism.
A very small number of scientists, and a much larger number of environmental activists, claim that Earth's biosphere is consciously manipulating the climate in order to make conditions more conducive to life.
Scientists contend that there is no evidence to support this belief. Gaia in the social sciences[ edit ] This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. June A social science view of Gaia theory is the role of humans as a keystone species who may be able to accomplish global homeostasis.
Whilst a few social scientists who draw inspiration from 'organic' views of society have embraced Gaia philosophy as a way to explain the human-nature interconnections, most professional social scientists are more involved in reflecting upon the way Gaia philosophy is used and engaged with within sub-sections of society.
Alan Marshall, in the Department of Social Sciences at Mahidol University, for example, reflects upon the way Gaia philosophy has been used and advocated by environmentalists, spiritualists, managers, economists, and scientists and engineers see The Unity of Nature, , Imperial College Press: London and Singapore.
Social Scientists themselves in the s gave up on systems ideas of society since they were interpreted as supporting conservatism and traditionalism. Gaia in politics[ edit ] Some radical political environmentalists who accept some form of the Gaia theory call themselves Gaians.
They actively seek to restore the Earth's homeostasis — whenever they see it out of balance, e. In effect, they seek to cooperate to become the "system consciously manipulating to make conditions more conducive to life".
Such activity defines the homeostasis, but for leverage it relies on deep investigation of the homeorhetic balances, if only to find places to intervene in a system which is changing in undesirable ways. Tony Bondhus brings up the point in his book, Society of Conceivia, that if Gaia is alive, then societies are living things as well.
This suggests that our understanding of Gaia can be used to create a better society and to design a better political system. Are there parts of the system determined pragmatically by whatever disciplinary study is being undertaken at any given time or are there a set of parts that should be taken as most true for understanding Gaia as containing evolving organisms over time? What are the feedbacks among these different parts of the Gaian system, and what does the near closure of matter mean for the structure of Gaia as a global ecosystem and for the productivity of life?
How do results from Daisyworld transfer to the real world? What are the main candidates for "daisies"? Does it matter for Gaia theory whether we find daisies or not? How should we be searching for daisies, and should we intensify the search? How can Gaian mechanisms be investigated using process models or global models of the climate system that include the biota and allow for chemical cycling? Staley has similarly proposed " In [this] new approach, environmental regulation is a consequence of population dynamics, not Darwinian selection.
The role of selection is to favor organisms that are best adapted to prevailing environmental conditions. However, the environment is not a static backdrop for evolution, but is heavily influenced by the presence of living organisms. The resulting co-evolving dynamical process eventually leads to the convergence of equilibrium and optimal conditions".
Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and long-time advocate of the Gaia hypothesis, was a keynote speaker. Baird Callicott. This conference approached the Gaia hypothesis as both science and metaphor as a means of understanding how we might begin addressing 21st century issues such as climate change and ongoing environmental destruction. Criticism[ edit ] After initially being largely ignored by most scientists from until , thereafter for a period the initial Gaia hypothesis was criticized by a number of scientists, such as Ford Doolittle ,  Richard Dawkins  and Stephen Jay Gould.
Many scientists in particular also criticised the approach taken in his popular book Gaia, a New Look at Life on Earth for being teleological —a belief that things are purposeful and aimed towards a goal. Responding to this critique in , Lovelock stated, "Nowhere in our writings do we express the idea that planetary self-regulation is purposeful, or involves foresight or planning by the biota ".
Stephen Jay Gould criticised Gaia as being "a metaphor, not a mechanism. In his defense of Gaia, David Abram argues that Gould overlooked the fact that "mechanism", itself, is a metaphor — albeit an exceedingly common and often unrecognized metaphor — one which leads us to consider natural and living systems as though they were machines organized and built from outside rather than as autopoietic or self-organizing phenomena.
Mechanical metaphors, according to Abram, lead us to overlook the active or agential quality of living entities, while the organismic metaphorics of the Gaia hypothesis accentuate the active agency of both the biota and the biosphere as a whole. He also states that most of his critics are biologists but that his hypothesis includes experiments in fields outside biology, and that some self-regulating phenomena may not be mathematically explainable.
However, in the early s, W. Ford Doolittle and Richard Dawkins separately argued against Gaia. Doolittle argued that nothing in the genome of individual organisms could provide the feedback mechanisms proposed by Lovelock, and therefore the Gaia hypothesis proposed no plausible mechanism and was unscientific.
Lynn Margulis , a microbiologist who collaborated with Lovelock in supporting the Gaia hypothesis, argued in , that " Darwin 's grand vision was not wrong, only incomplete. In accentuating the direct competition between individuals for resources as the primary selection mechanism, Darwin and especially his followers created the impression that the environment was simply a static arena".
She wrote that the composition of the Earth's atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere are regulated around "set points" as in homeostasis , but those set points change with time.Her version is sometimes called the "Gaia Theory" note uppercase-T. It is a matter for often heated debate whether this is a valid usage of the term, but ultimately it appears to be a semantic dispute. What are the feedbacks among these different parts of the Gaian system, and what does the near closure of matter mean for the structure of Gaia as a global ecosystem and for the productivity of life?
Essence of Gaia Theory. The role of selection is to favor organisms that are best adapted to prevailing environmental conditions. These are conjectures and perhaps can only be considered as social and maybe political philosophy; they may have implications for theology , or thealogy as Zell-Ravenheart and Isaac Bonewits put it. Ford Doolittle is one of the most well-known critics of the Gaia hypothesis. What is Gaia Theory? EE LLC helps companies, organizations and individuals achieve their sustainability goals and engage their innate human creativity to envision and implement sustainable ways of working and living.
This does not mean that these ideas are not theoretically testable.
Changes can be planned, agreed upon by many people, being very deliberate, as in urban ecology and especially industrial ecology. The sequestration of this carbon cooled the Earth. She wrote that the composition of the Earth's atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere are regulated around "set points" as in homeostasis , but those set points change with time.