James Lovelock admits being 'alarmist' over climate change

James Lovelock

Gaia theorist admits he made a 'mistake' but insists he is not a climate denier

LAST UPDATED AT 12:34 ON Tue 24 Apr 2012

JAMES LOVELOCK, the originator of the Gaia theory, has admitted he and other environmentalists such as Al Gore have been "alarmist" about climate change.

Lovelock, who in the 1970s put forward the idea that the earth and its organisms are a self-regulating entity, has been a leading proponent of the idea that climate change will prove catastrophic to the human race. But in an interview with MSNBC, he accepted that view was a "mistake".

In 2006, while publicising his book The Revenge of Gaia, he told The Independent: "Before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable."

In his most recent book, 2009's The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning: Enjoy it While You Can, Lovelock said it was likely that a remnant of human civilisation would survive climate change on 'lifeboats' - islands at high latitudes such as Japan, Britain and Tasmania.

Only two years ago he said democracy might have to be sacrificed if we are to make a meaningful attempt to tackle climate change.

Now, Lovelock, 92, has said he regrets some of his more headline-grabbing statements, and those of his environmentalist contemporaries, such as Al Gore, who made the film An Inconvenient Truth.

"The problem is we don't know what the climate is doing," he explained. "We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books - mine included - because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn't happened.

"The climate is doing its usual tricks. There's nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now."

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are rising, he said, but average temperatures since the millennium have stayed "almost constant".

Lovelock believes there is still hope because we do not understand all the variables in play. "[The ocean] could make all the difference between a hot age and an ice age," he said.

Clearly aware of the potential for his statements to be misused by people with axes to grind, he was careful to state, when asked whether he is a climate sceptic: "It depends what you mean by a sceptic. I'm not a denier... We will have global warming, but it's been deferred a bit."

Lovelock's more nuanced opinion will form the basis of a new book to be published next year, which will explain how humans can change their behaviour in order to "help regulate the Earth's systems". · 

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When a train is at the top of a pass without brakes or rather brakemen brave enough to jump aboard even the gentle wind of public sentiment won't matter for a track is chosen., Earth's ocean pH is knocked for loop by human expansion and use of natural resources which weaken its ability to buffer the physical propertied mastery of the universe by life's right to live..
A promise not kept; a promise to protect the Earth we live in and for others no future hope remains should we, we who live today fail to see the test, the true meaning of the test upon us and rise to the occasion peacefully..
8.23 shift to approx 8.14 in pH of the Sea may not sound like a lot but what it means is a thirty fold increase in hydrogen radical or acid in the Sea..
Enough to shock the ability of animals to produce carbonate shells and stuff which precipitate the carbon to sequester on ocean floor, carbon once sequestered now dumped into atmosphere most callously by human kind.. A human once given hope of kindness - now repays by oil and coal use ashore.. Breaking the link to former life gone by, breaking contract to be brakemen on Earth's path to destruction in sync with the writing on the wall.
Breaking the hopes for the future of young and their children yet unborn..
Breaking hopes of his creation for a living pace and a place of shelter too.
All the books once written depend on what we as a people do today..
Do we rise to the occasion and create a sustainable way of living by bringing the full bearing of industry and imagination along with technology and communications potential of the internet to retool and protect Earth or Not.. 7,000,000,000 people living - are there no brakemen or women aboard?  And where is the press - don't they, the mass media have guts?
Float your soft peddling of what's happening to our chances for life as if in league with the devil, a compromise with the devil as if to see to squeezing a little more money from Earth's natural abundance..  Her systems destroy.
See where that will get you - perhaps a vote or two in the next election or not having a troll or hard heart immediately attack.. But guess what's next.

Seems like all along it has been calculated spin to sell his books. And since then Al Gore hit the news as an environmentalist! Politicians are really astute chamaleons who would do anything to remain in the news..  

This guy is only out to sell books - I don't believe a word he says, whether he is says about the climate, regardless of what he says.  Some of his statements were so extraordinarily extreme that he should be ashamed of himself.  "Alarmist" is putting it lightly.

The thing that really matters is our "mining" of every resource, taking more from the oceans, forests, fresh water systems, soils, etc. than is being replenished. We're draining the capital on which our lives depend, while population and per capita consumption keep increasing.

These calculations are easier to make and more obvious than trying to figure/guess the climate. Overspending our means is simply bad business. We need some good business leaders who can talk some sense to all of us - individuals, governments, corporations - about how to balance the global books.

That looks awfully like Michael Mann's infamous "hockey stick" chart, complete with the medieval warm period massaged out, but then, that's what you are likely to get from the NYT.

hockey stick is what the reality is though.  The spike in global temperatures has been confirmed by a multitude of measuring sticks.  Deny it all you want.

Dear novenator, the Earth is certainly warming, has been for the last 18,000 years, and I would be surprised if man's activities are not helping it along.  However, the Hockey Stick has long been totally discredited. If you google "James Lovelock: 'Fudging data is a sin against science'." you may find the good Dr. Lovelock is also of that opinion.

In the interest of freedom of thought and expression though, you just feel free to panic all you want!

no news

ohh, I knew that!
Many scientists have refuted this theory but world media doesn't pay attention to them.

ohh, I've heard about this some years ago.
Many scientists have refuted this theory but world media doesn't pay attention to them.

ohh, I've heard about this some years ago.
Many scientists have refuted this theory but world media doesn't pay attention to them.

I am a scientist.  I am well aware that the Earth is in what's known as an inter-glacial period.  That is well documented.  What is also well documented is the sudden spike in global temperatures since our species began large scale industrial activity, as is the effect of burning fossil fuels that creates this.  This is not natural, and anyone who pretends like it is simply doesn't understand science.

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