Newsnight: Expert discusses keeping global warming below 1.5C
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James Lovelock has a theory, which he calls the Gaia theory, that Earth’s environment adjusts itself in response to human abuse. In a comment piece for the Guardian, the 102-year-old wrote about the theory he first penned 60 years ago. He noted: “For billions of years the Earth’s surface temperature has been determined mainly by the radiant heat coming from the Sun.
“This energy increased over time because it is the nature of stars like the Sun to increase their heat output as they grow older.
“The global warming that concerns all of us, includes a great deal of extra heating that comes as a consequence of extracting and burning fossil fuels since about the middle of the 19th century.”
And Mr Lovelock warned that this will strike us with great vengeance.
He said that action is now needed urgently.
He added: “Thanks to Gaia: forests, oceans and other elements in the Earth’s regulating system, which kept the surface temperature fairly constant and near-optimal for life.”
But now, human activity has seriously disrupted the Gaia formula.
He wrote: “Two genocidal acts — suffocation by greenhouse gases and the clearance of the rainforests — have caused changes on a scale not seen in millions of years.
“We are entering into a heat age in which the temperature and sea levels will be rising decade by decade until the world becomes unrecognisable.”
But contrary to popular belief, Mr Lovelock thinks that the answer is not to ramp up standard renewable technologies like wind and solar power to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
Instead, the environmentalist argues that a boost to nuclear power should be the primary driver of the green revolution.
He wrote: “We need to build more nuclear power stations to overcome that, though the greens will first have to get over their overblown fears of radiation.”
Mr Lovelock also warned that the pandemic may well have been Earth’s natural reaction to destructive human activity.
He wrote: “The virus, COVID-19, may well have been one negative feedback.
“Gaia will try harder next time with something even nastier.”
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Mr Lovelock’s warning comes after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published their damning report that issued a “code red” for humanity.
It warned that urgent action is required if we are to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change.
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