The end of Gaia: requiem for Lovelock’s hypothesis

One of the most frequent claims made by deniers and critics of the environmental movement is that acceptance of anthropogenic climate change is not based on science but “faith”

Typically they will accuse scientists, activists and writers such as myself as being in the thrall of a semi-mystical belief in a transcendent “Gaia”. 

For those not familiar with the concept, the Gaia hypothesis was put forward by James Lovelock and biologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s. They proposed the Earth is composed of a myriad of self-regulating systems that seeks to maintain conditions optimal for life.

Lovelock’s hypothesis has always been controversial, and despite what the deniers would have you believe “faith in Gaia” has never been the driving intellectual force behind the work of climate scientists.

I will note it has gained has some currency in popular culture resulting in some very silly writings and abuse of scientific concepts. 

Climate sceptics have conflated (and confused) some of these pop-culture interpretations of the Gaia hypothesis with climate science. The somewhat bonkers website The Green Agenda gives you a good feel for the kind of criticisms sceptics like to level against climate science:

Gaia worship is at the very heart of the Global Green Agenda. Sustainable Development, Agenda 21, the Earth Charter, and the Global Warming theory are all part of the Gaians mission to save “Mother Earth” from her human infestation. Gaians have succeeded in uniting the environmental movement, the new age movement, Eastern religions, the United Nations and even the leaders of many Christian denominations behind this vile new form of paganism.

Obviously this conspiracy infused criticism has little basis in reality.

But what of the Gaia hypothesis itself?

There has been a long running debate within science about its validity, however a recent book reviewed in Nature Climate Change may offer the final word on the issue.

On Gaia: A Critical Investigation of the Relationship between Life and Earth by Toby Tyrrell (Princeton University Press, 2013) will be of interest to anyone who shares a fascination with the philosophy and history of science.

The counter-arguments put forward by Tyrrell are compelling, in particular the idea the Earth is held at stable conditions to support life:

Tyrrell finds that the Earth is actually too cold for the maximum development of the biosphere. Gaia also fails in its postulate that the Earth is held at relatively stable conditions. True, the climate and biogeochemical cycles of the Holocene have been unusually stable, but over longer periods of time the biosphere has been buffeted by events that have dealt it quite a blow. What is remarkable is that life persisted at all — a statement of the power of evolution to rebuild the biosphere everywhere as long as life has endured somewhere.

As the review notes, the fact that life exists on Earth is most likely due to pure chance: 

Tyrrell uses the ‘anthropic principle’ to dismiss any theory that suggests causes for the long-term favourability of planet Earth for the persistence of life. Such a theory cannot be falsified, because we have no replicate planets to examine where life has failed. Chance alone — however small — is a better mechanism to explain why we are all here today to have sex, eat at MacDonald’s and discuss the value of such theories.

I do think it is worth noting that Lovelock’s theory has had some utility, in particular prompting scientists to consider both the climate and Earth as an integrated system.

Thus we may regard Lovelock as a contemporary Jean Baptiste Lamarck.

Lamarck was an eighteenth century French naturalist who put forward an evolutionary hypothesis well before Darwin. Known as the theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics, Lamarck argued the more a certain “body part” was used the stronger it got. These characteristics were then passed on to an organisms progeny.

Thus, every time a giraffe stretched its neck to reach the upper most leaves of a tree its neck got “stronger” and more elongated. This trait was then passed down to later generations of giraffes.

While incorrect, Lamarck’s legacy is considerable in putting forward the first fully realized theory of evolution. Lamarck helped point the way with his mistakes. The same could be said for Lovelock.

While the Gaia hypothesis may not have stood up, at the very least Lovelock suggested we think about the planet as an integrated system.

Science can progress by error as much as it does through the collection of evidence and the formulation of new hypotheses.

107 thoughts on “The end of Gaia: requiem for Lovelock’s hypothesis

  1. John D says:

    I would have thought the Sceptics were the Gaia worhshippers. They have the blind faith that we can do what we like without any risk to the future.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      A good point, the review states that:

      “Tyrrell warns us of the dangers of Gaia. Those who believe that our planet is self-regulating will lack any motivation to stem the growing tide of human insults to Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and terrestrial biosphere from a rising human population with great expectations for well-being. These libertarians need to know that their belief is groundless. CO2 will increase in Earth’s atmosphere as long as we add more of it from fossil fuel combustion than the oceans can absorb each year by Henry’s Law.”

      • I find it funny that those who rely on faith in one vein would attack a straw-puppet version of faith in another. Lovelock didn’t found a faith, environmentalists and scientists, don’t, as a majority, worship Gaia. There are no churches, no institutions, no great books. Primarily, it’s fact based warning that spurs the scientists and environmentalists to speak out.

        If there is a spiritualism within the movement, it is the unbound universal spiritualism that comes from an awe of and appreciation for nature. This essential element of the human heart is one that transcends the boundaries of any mere institutionalized religion. We are, essentially, the children of all life that came before us. And the living world that sustains us is both our mother and protector. It is essential and entirely natural to feel a deep bond with that world. In my view, those who have cut their bonds with nature in this way are anethema, the destroyers of the Earth from Christian Revelations (11:18).

      • Bill Jamison says:

        Those damn evil libertarians!


  2. Steve says:

    Although you are correct in describing Lamarck as a eighteenth century French naturalist, his major work on evolution, Philosophie Zoologique, was published in 1809, in the nineteenth century.
    His theory took one aspect of Dr. Erasmus Darwin’s theory of evolution and expanded it, leaving out the parts of Dr. Darwin’s theory that were closer to the theories his grandson Charles developed much later.

  3. Sou says:

    I don’t claim to have a good grasp of the gaia hypothesis but I will say that the fact that earth has been “buffeted” by big forces and been shoved off kilter doesn’t necessarily negate the idea of some sort of homeostatic or balancing mechanisms – but within limits.

    We as mammals have homeostatic mechanisms that keep us alive for decades, through heat and cold, food and less food etc. But get a big enough shock to the system and poof – it becomes too much and we don’t survive.

    Of course we’re now “shocking” the earth system with a massive dose of atmospheric CO2 and the system is getting out of kilter. Just how much out of kilter none of us will ever know because it will take a long time to unfold. But we are already seeing it and we’ll see more over the next few years and decades.

    • john byatt says:

      Sou I think that the processes which we might see as balancing mechanisms are ongoing all the time, The earth does not respond to high levels of CO2 by more weathering, the high levels become stable sooner or later so over millions of years the already ongoing process has an effect which reduces the level,

      what about more plants as a response?, again ongoing processes

      If there is a balancing act, it is for life itself, crocodiles move to the north pole, plants grow on antarctica and humans mostly disappear


  4. john byatt says:

    that the earth is self regulating is a total nonsense,

    the earth responds to forcings, greenhouse gas increase, solar and orbital changes

    that those forcings over millions of years have led to the existence of humans is purely a coincidence and we are now here to ask such questions

    We are in the Habitable zone for a main sequence yellow dwarf star.probably not that uncommon within the greater universe,

    The real question is “can humans push the Earth’s climate in our current Milankovitch phase beyond a global temperature that is inconsistent with human civilization”

    the science would suggest that on our current emissions path it would be highly likely,

    can we push the climate enough to lead to mass extinctions which will change ecosystems to the point of placing our own existence in jeopardy ?

    we already are, whole ecosystems can collapse from the top down or the bottom up.simply removing one rung of the food chain can lead to disaster

    We see such collapse and believe that we are immune from the flow on effects,

    we are destroying what might be termed the current balance from which we are the beneficiaries, stuff it up at our peril

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      “the earth responds to forcings, greenhouse gas increase, solar and orbital changes” I’d agree with this systems view.

    • Sou says:

      What I’m getting at is that when things are going along, the carbon cycle works, the water cycle works, ENSO happens, the deep ocean circulation happens, warm air gets transported away from the tropics. If some little thing goes out of kilter like a bushfire, then other things happen. Vegetation regrows or new plants come in. Droughts happen and kangaroos stop breeding till the rains come etc.

      I don’t accept any cognition in this process at all, needless to say. The earth system isn’t alive like animals are. It doesn’t make decisions. However the system is in some sort of balance until it’s thrown out of balance by some force that’s bigger than normal (like gigatonnes of CO2 or a super-volcano or two or three). To that extent the system can be viewed as self regulating but only to a point. Whether you want to call it a gaia mechanism or not I’m not fussed. Like I said I don’t know enough about the hypothesis (the scientific one I mean, not the airy fairy mother earthish one).

      Even talking about “destroying the current balance” implies some sort of system regulation because nothing on earth is static.

      We are pushing the system out of balance and that’s the problem. We’re already in the sixth major extinction event. How bad it will be I don’t know. It could be the worst, or the second or third worst. I don’t think it will be the smallest major extinction. But I also think it will take millennia to play out. After that there’ll probably still be humans. We are quite adaptive to a range of environments, more so than many other species.

  5. Bill Jamison says:

    ‘One of the most frequent claims made by deniers and critics of the environmental movement is that acceptance of anthropogenic climate change is not based on science but “faith”’

    Could you give an example of a “denier” making this claim? I’ve never seen it before. The only talk about “faith” is generally regarding the faith people put in computer models.

    Of course I have seen claims that AGW has become a “religion”: adherents paint the world in terms of black and white, good and evil, right and wrong. They try to make climate debates into moral debates so that anyone that challenges them is immoral. They are the “chosen” ones that know what’s right for the earth and for man and anyone that disagrees is evil or a shill for Big Oil. It’s one of the reasons the term “denier” is used; it’s intentionally a pejorative label designed to dehumanize and marginalize anyone that disagrees with them.

    • Sou says:

      This quasi-religious faith in catastrophic AGW still remains a prerequisite for membership in scientific and media elite circles,

      Lots more where that came from. You’ve got to get out more or learn how to use google.

      And you reckon denying science should be mainstream, not marginal? What sort of world would that lead us into? That’s just nuts.

        • john byatt says:

          Europe’s Climate Change Alarmism a Religious Belief? (Link)
          Their insistence that we can be absolutely certain this will come to pass is based not on science-but on something very much like religious faith. (Link)
          Climate Change is viewed in France as a Catechism. Anne-Elisabeth Moutet. (See video)
          It’s a pagan religion. Believers in global warming “use all the elements of traditional religion, especially the theme of the apocalypse.” Pascal Bruckner. (See video)

          why do followers of a religious belief try to discredit AGW as just a religious belief ?

          irony?. NO they do not see their own fundamentalist view as being a faith but rather as a fact, cognitive dissonance overcome

        • Bill Jamison says:

          Wow zoot you’re so clever!

          Did leaving out “acceptance” change a single thing regarding my post? I don’t believe it does. Fred Singer was talking about the faith that people put into catastrophic AGW not the theory of AGW.

          Apparently your comprehension isn’t very good either.

          From the link:

          This quasi-religious faith in catastrophic AGW still remains a prerequisite for membership in scientific and media elite circles, even in the face of the failure of earlier (model) predictions of apocalypse to manifest

          As I said, people like Singer certainly understand the science behind GHG theory and AGW. They are skeptical of claims of future warming and particularly catastrophic consequences of that warming.

          I’m still waiting for an article that actually supports the claims made in the post otherwise it’s simply a strawman.

      • Bill Jamison says:

        Sou says: August 25, 2013 at 2:35 am

        This quasi-religious faith in catastrophic AGW still remains a prerequisite for membership in scientific and media elite circles,

        The claim was that ‘anthropogenic climate change is not based on science but “faith”’. That WUWT post doesn’t substantiate that claim. Most (if not all) prominent skeptics, and that includes Watts, understand the science and GHG theory. To claim otherwise is ridiculous. Fred Singer certainly understands it. The disagreement, as I already stated, is the “faith” put in computer models and projections of future impacts particularly the alarmist claims such as this one:

        “…it had been estimated that there would be between 50 million and 200 million environmental migrants by 2010.”

        Or the recent claim that 2,000 Australians would die annually by 2050 due to heat related issues when the current annual average is 24.

        • zoot says:

          The claim was that ‘anthropogenic climate change is not based on science but “faith”’.

          No Bill, the claim was that acceptance of anthropogenic climate change is not based on science but “faith”.
          Your comprehension skills are nowhere near as acute as you seem to think.

        • Sou says:

          The statement couldn’t be more clear, Bill. I hope you’re not ascribing miraculous qualities to me, such as imagining I am a deity and that I can read the mind of the writer. I’m good and always willing to give it a shot – but you asked and I, or should I say S Fred Singer delivered.

          Read it again – “quasi-religious faith …remains a prerequisite for membership in scientific and elite circles”

          I don’t care what anyone said elsewhere and I’d be the last one to try to fathom the mysterious workings of the conspiracy theorist’s brain. What you asked for is there in black and white.

          Now there’s lots more where that came from. Click here and I’ll show you how to use Google. (You can sift through the results yourself)

        • john byatt says:

          “singer understands the science”

          Singer argues there is no evidence that the increases in carbon dioxide produced by humans cause global warming, and that if temperatures do rise it will be good for humankind.

          “We are certainly putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” he told The Daily Telegraph in 2009. “However there is no evidence that this high CO2 is making a detectable difference.

          It should in principle, however the atmosphere is very complicated and one cannot simply argue that just because CO2 is a greenhouse gas it causes warming.”

        • john byatt says:

          seems to change his mind a bit

          “Singer argues there is no evidence that global warming is attributable to human-caused increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, and that humanity would benefit if temperatures do rise”.

        • Bill Jamison says:

          Singer: “CO2 is a greenhouse gas”

          Apparently he does understand the science.

        • Bill Jamison says:

          Sou says: August 25, 2013 at 8:30 am

          The statement couldn’t be more clear, Bill. … What you asked for is there in black and white.

          So Mike says it’s “One of the most frequent claims made by deniers” and so far we’ve found a single example. Not convincing.

          Convenient of you to intentionally remove the qualifier “catastrophic” from your Singer quote Sou.

        • john byatt says:

          waste of time, but

          Global warmists have an unshakable faith that man-made carbon emissions will produce a hotter climate, causing natural disasters. Their insistence that we can be absolutely certain that this will come to pass is based not on science, but on faith.
          All the trappings of religion are here:

        • zoot says:

          So Mike says it’s “One of the most frequent claims made by deniers” and so far we’ve found a single example.

          Once again, you’re wrong Bill, Sou pointed you in the right direction with the link:

          Who dresses you in the morning?

        • Bill Jamison says:

          So Sou does a Google search for a single word equal evidence in your mind?

          Instead of actual quotes you’ll simply accept of list of hits from a search??? And since the search was specific to WUWT then I supposed that WUWT speaks for all “deniers”?

        • Bill Jamison says:

          Sorry that post ^^^ should have been addressed to zoot not sou.

          I guess if you can’t provide real examples you can always provide a Google search result to try to overwhelm someone with meaningless results. But if that’s all you have to try to bolster your false claim then I suppose you might as well try to use it and hope no one notices.

        • john byatt says:

          bill “watts is not a nutter, his followers are”:

        • Bill Jamison says:

          john “i like to make shit up and put it in quotes with a name so others think that person actually said it”

          I’m still waiting for the links to show how deniers are frequently making that claim. Since it’s so common it seems like it would be easy but instead all we have are some links to Google search results and a couple of pages that may or may not fit the description.

          Or maybe it’s simply a strawman.

        • john byatt says:


          bill ” watts is a nutter”

        • Bill Jamison says:

          john “thanks to Bill for helping me understand monthly climate anomalies”

          Hey John you’re welcome! I’m glad I could help. Next time you should just admit you don’t know.

      • Sou says:

        Seems to be a very common tactic by science deniers. Ask a question, refuse to do their own research and when someone provides and answer and points them in the direction to do their own research, they complain and say it’s not enough. But they still don’t do make the slightest effort to do their own research.

        Lots of wacky science deniers argue that AGW is a religion. It’s not hard to find that out.

        Utter nutters.

        • Bill Jamison says:

          If I make a claim should it be incumbent on me to provide evidence to support that claim or should it be up to each reader to research that claim on their own in order to dispute it?

          Or to put it another way if I make a claim so I then say to you “Do your own research?” when you ask for a cite?

        • Sou says:

          If I make a claim should it be incumbent on me to provide evidence to support that claim or should it be up to each reader to research that claim on their own in order to dispute it?

          It depends on how nutty your claim is. If you claimed that all the CO2 emissions with which we are polluting the atmosphere are causing global warming, well there’s no need to provide evidence. It’s a well-known fact.

          If you claimed that no science denier has ever alleged that climate science is a ‘religion‘ or a ‘faith‘ and ‘not a science‘, then you’d be regarded as just another nutter, because that’s so simple to disprove.

          Or to put it another way if I make a claim so I then say to you “Do your own research?” when you ask for a cite?

          That sentence doesn’t make any sense to me. But you’re welcome to the research I’ve provided.

        • zoot says:

          Bill, who dresses you in the morning?

        • Bill Jamison says:

          Just as I thought. No one can actually provide real examples even though it’s “one of the most frequent claims”. So instead you resort to insults. Don’t you know how transparent you are?

        • zoot says:

          No, seriously Bill – who dresses you in the morning?

        • Bill Jamison says:

          Is that really the best you can do zoot?

          Sorry rhetorical question, obviously it is the best you can do.

        • zoot says:

          Aha! Avoiding the question. What shameful secret are you hiding Bill??

        • Bill Jamison says:

          I asked a real question and got no answers – which is expected – and now you accuse me of avoiding the question?

          zoot you’ve got nothing. seriously. nothing.

        • Yup. I’ve got a lady on another thread who tells me she holds a degree from MIT. She doesn’t believe the deep ocean is heating. So she simply asserts there is no mechanism by which oceans can heat – citing her knowledge of the laws of thermodynamics. So far I’ve thrown her “Ekman Transport” (for her to learn of upwelling and downwelling) and “cool skin of the ocean” to learn of heat transport.

          She’s obviously never done her own research, instead relying upon disproof by incredulity. Why are climate sceptics the least sceptical, in the sense of self-scepticism, people? Damned if I’m going to give her links. I’m just giving her key phrases. The irony of her position as a self-announce sceptic still hasn’t dawned on her either. I doubt it ever will.

          Still, it keeps me amused in some small way.

        • uknowispeaksense says:

          Welcome to the world of the concern troll Sou. Ignore it.

  6. john byatt says:

    a nearly universal conviction that the Earth automatically regulated itself in a “balance of nature.” Getting to specifics, scientists repeated the plausible argument that the oceans would absorb any excess gases that came into the atmosphere. Fifty times more carbon is dissolved in sea water than in the wispy atmosphere. Thus the oceans would determine the equilibrium concentration of CO2, and it would not easily stray from the present numbers.

    If oceans failed to stabilize the system, organic matter was another good candidate for providing what one scientist called “homeostatic regulation.”(12) The amount of carbon in the atmosphere is only a small fraction of what is bound up not only in the oceans but also in trees, peat bogs, and so forth. Just as sea water would absorb more gas if the concentration increased, so would plants grow more lushly in air that was “fertilized” with extra carbon dioxide. Rough calculations seemed to confirm the comfortable belief that biological systems would stabilize the atmosphere by absorbing any surplus. One way or another, then, whatever gases humanity added to the atmosphere would be absorbed — if not at once, then within a century or so

    • Sou says:

      Yeah. I get you. That’s wonky! Earth didn’t ‘regulate’ the system in the past like that. Remember when there was no oxygen, then heaps of oxygen, then it dropped back to where it is now. Not literally remember :). One can take a good idea too far.

      With that in mind, this is interesting:

      • john byatt says:

        Your blog goes from strength to strength Sou.

        read as often as possible, email updates would be good, only use mobile when on the road

        • Sou says:

          Thanks, John. Flattery will get you everywhere 🙂

          Do you mean sending articles like on a listserver system? The blog works fine on a smartphone. It automatically goes to a different lightweight format. But if you’d like an email version I could investigate. Maybe cut down versions of longer posts?

        • john byatt says:

          No. genuine admirer Sou, you obviously put a lot of work into the blog and it shows
          I receive updates for uki and wtd posts via email

        • Sou says:

          I’ll look into it John and get back to you. Probably not for a few days.

        • Sou says:

          All done John. There’s a box at the top. I tried it out and it seems to be working but let me know if it doesn’t work for you.

        • john byatt says:

          Email Subscription Confirmed!



  7. john byatt says:

    I had no idea of the numbers

    The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) (www.internal‐ was
    established by theNorwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in 1998, upon the request oftheUnitedNations
    Inter‐Agency Standing Committee. Itis a leading source of information and analysis on internal
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  8. john byatt says:

    watts had a post on the planets self regulation of CO2,,

    this was it

    “Our study indicates that carbon exchanges in tropical ecosystems are extremely sensitive to temperature, and they respond with the release of emissions when warmer temperatures occur”.
    “Many processes involved in this response are the same as what is known as the carbon-climate feedback, which it is thought will lead to an acceleration of carbon emissions from vegetation and soils and into the atmosphere under future climate change.
    “The observed temperature changes are more important than changes in rainfall in influencing concentration of atmospheric CO2”.carbon-dioxide-levels.aspx

  9. john byatt says:

    wtd”One of the most frequent claims made by deniers and critics of the environmental movement is that acceptance of anthropogenic climate change is not based on science but “faith”

  10. john byatt says:

    republicans and democrats , Obama the anti christ, OWG and the global warming hoax of their own delusions

    the most likely to claim that climate change is faith based are the religious faithful as we read at the fundamentalist blog the climate sceptics patry

    • Bill Jamison says:

      Nothing in that article or the corresponding poll supports your claim. The only question asked was whether global warming was a “hoax” and more conservatives than liberals said “yes” by a large margin.

      For global warming being a “hoax” the age group with the highest percentage of people saying “yes” is the older people of retirement age 65 and older. The age group with the highest percentage of people saying “yes” to Obama being the anti-christ is the youngest group 18-29.

      Not sure you can try to make a correlation out of that.

      Each age group and political ideology has their pet conspiracies they support at higher rates than other groups.

      Full poll results:

      • john byatt says:

        It is not always about you bill, that was about OWG anti christs and conspiracy theories

        the comment below referenced the climate sceptics party for the faith based claims.
        if you want to refute that then link to the climate sceptics party denying it

        there is a good chap

        • Bill Jamison says:

          So we were supposed to see that link and expect that you were referring to a comment on it instead of the article itself? So it’s not about the poll results – which I provided a link to – but instead it’s about nutty comments to the a story on the internet? Really?

  11. john byatt says:

    Monckton does not claim that AGW is faith based, he claims that it is a fraud

    but then again Monckton is out there with the loonies

    A FEW weeks ago I wrote a story for DeSmogBlog looking at how Lord Christopher Monckton – a poster child of the climate science denialist movement – had agreed to launch a new Australian political party fronted by an anti-Islamist Creationist preacher. The party in question is called Rise Up Australia and its messianic front man, Pastor Danny Nalliah, believes that only God can control the climate and that Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, which killed more than 170 people, were God’s punishment for Victoria’s laws allowing abortion.

    again the implication that god controls the climate to a temperature beneficial for humans

  12. Bill Jamison says:

    The counter-arguments put forward by Tyrrell are compelling, in particular the idea the Earth is held at stable conditions to support life:

    Tyrrell finds that the Earth is actually too cold for the maximum development of the biosphere.

    Can’t argue with that!

  13. john byatt says:

    even Sou copped a claim that it was all faith based in latest comments

    “Accordingly, I’ll leave the fine people here at HotWhopper to their unshakeable faith that’s cloaked with multiple appeals to “science.” On the matter of climate change”

  14. Bernard J. says:

    As much as I am a fervent adherent of the insights of Darwin and Wallace, and I do so like to proffer foreskins as an example of the failure of the classic theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics, it’s worth noting that Lamarck was in some small measure vindicated with the emergence of understanding of the phenomenon of epigenetics.

    • uknowispeaksense says:

      a very very very small measure Bernard. The types of heritable characteristics Lamarck postulated as being possible were extreme compared to what epigenetics offers. That said, evolutionary theory is a brilliant example of how science works and Lamarck certainly played a major part in its devlopment.

      • Bernard J. says:

        I did predicate with “small”, if not with the “verys”!

        I’m not implying that epigenetic inheritance would eventually result in the change of gross physical characteristics in the manner that we would understand it in a classic evolutionary sense. However quite obvious phenotypic differences can be passed from one generation to another via external influence on the genome, and in view of this Lamarck’s model of the environment affecting the phenotype of progeny deserves a tip of the hat.

    • The inheritance of acquired characteristics was widely accepted in Darwin’s time. Darwin himself increasingly incorporated it into his theory with each edition of “The Origin”. Darwin’s pangenesis hypothesis was an attempt to explain how acquired characteristics could be inherited. The inheritance of acquired characteristics was not the aspect of Lamarck’s work that is properly “Lamarckian”. Lamarck’s problem was the rest of his claims, which included spontaneous generation and the lack of common descent among groups, and his overall lack of evidence for his suppositions. His timing was off too; by Darwin’s time there was a bit more evidence that species were mutable. When Lamarck published, the “species question” was in its infancy. There is a good summary of this here: It’s written by historian/philosopher of biology Michael T. Ghiselin.

  15. Sou says:

    WTD, would you mind checking your spam box for my latest comment. I added too many links to evidence 🙂

    • john byatt says:

      you will be wasting your time sou if about this.

      Bill Jamison says:
      August 25, 2013 at 2:14 am
      ‘One of the most frequent claims made by deniers and critics of the environmental movement is that acceptance of anthropogenic climate change is not based on science but “faith”’

      Could you give an example of a “denier” making this claim? I’ve never seen it before. The only talk about “faith” is generally regarding the faith people put in computer models.

      heaps of examples given.

      american thinker
      the climate sceptics party
      comments at watts and co

  16. john byatt says:

    blatant political video

  17. john byatt says:

    Almost every week, new evidence of climate damage is published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. But the most recent scary stuff — the discovery, for instance, that melting permafrost is starting to leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas — will not be included in the new report because of the cutoff date for reviewing material.

    “It [the summary] is a powerful document because it is signed off by all governments,” said a source who follows the process closely. “But the IPCC has become such a conservative organisation. The report is really science at the lowest common denominator.

    • Bill Jamison says:

      “Michael Mann, a professor at Penn State University and author of a book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars,” blames this in part on campaigning by well-funded sceptics who either deny global warming or pin it on natural causes, such as fluctuations in solar heat.

      They intimidate individual scientists and exploit areas of scientific uncertainty to claim there is no expert consensus, he said. As a result, the IPCC compilers are driven to even greater caution, with the risk that they deliver a message that is fuzzy or larded with doubt.

      “I believe that these pressures combine with the innate tendency of scientists to be reticent about drawing strong conclusions,” said Mann.”

      Oooh Mike Mann believes there’s a conspiracy!!!

      • john byatt says:

        Director, Oceans Institute at University of Western Australia

        The noise on the climate change debate has reached such level that my colleagues in the US, particularly scientists within Federal agencies, tell me that they avoid taking a position on climate change in public conversations and news releases

        • Bill Jamison says:

          Uh James Hansen certainly has no problem taking a VERY public position on climate change or even coal “death trains”.

        • john byatt says:

          we need more like Hansen

          Instead, the very difficult question about how much climate change can be attributed to theses individual events is certain to be highly debated in the peer-reviewed literature (which is the only place it really counts). This is how science marches forward and it will be fascinating to watch. Dr. Michael Mann, (who has been the recipient of more death threats from the anti-science extremists than James Hansen I suspect) has supported Hansen’s conclusions. Keith Kloor has a post on The Crux that is quite good regarding this as well.

          Dr. Ben Santer at Lawrence Livermore Labs. (you should see the crazy letters he gets!)

        • Bill Jamison says:

          Yes we need more like Hansen – alarmists that retire and get the hell out of the way.

          Finally you and I agree on something!

        • john byatt says:

          At the same time, retirement will allow Dr. Hansen to press his cause in court. He plans to take a more active role in lawsuits challenging the federal and state governments over their failure to limit emissions, for instance, as well as in fighting the development in Canada of a particularly dirty form of oil extracted from tar sands.

          “As a government employee, you can’t testify against the government,” he said in an interview.

          Dr. Hansen had already become an activist in recent years, taking vacation time from NASA to appear at climate protests and allowing himself to be arrested or cited a half-dozen times.

          But those activities, going well beyond the usual role of government scientists, had raised eyebrows at NASA headquarters in Washington. “It was becoming clear that there were people in NASA who would be much happier if the ‘sideshow’ would exit,” Dr. Hansen said in an e-mail.

          At 72, he said, he feels a moral obligation to step up his activism in his remaining years.

        • Bill Jamison says:

          Yes he’s been an activist for a while now instead of a scientist. I’m sure he’ll be arrested several times a year making a statement about his beliefs. Bye Jimmy!

        • It’s quite right that deniers fear Hansen.

        • Bill Jamison says:

          Fear him? Now that’s funny. He’s an old coot that compares trains carrying coal to Nazi death trains carrying Jews to the gas chambers. Hard to take someone like that seriously.

        • john byatt says:


        • zoot says:

          Hint for Bill: activist and scientist are not mutually exclusive terms.
          And if you want to argue Hansen’s scientific rigour has been negatively affected by his concerns for humanity you’d better have some cast iron evidence.
          Bonus hint: that evidence (if it exists) will not be found on WUWT.

          And, seriously, who dresses you in the morning?

      • Looks like Ken Cuccinelli, the man who tried to prosecute Mann,has his own problems,

  18. john byatt says:

    excellent graphics on acidification risks for coral reefs

  19. john byatt says:

    denier ” the arctic ice is only being broken and melted because of icebreakers”

    yes i know it is nonsense but this is still interesting

  20. […] would be always benign. A recently published book drives another nail into Gaia's coffin. The end of Gaia: requiem for Lovelock’s hypothesis | Watching the Deniers Sign in or Register Now to […]

  21. john byatt says:

    This briefing paper has been produced to provide background information relating to analyses undertaken in response to a series of Parliamentary Questions on the use of statistical models to assess the global temperature record, and to address misleading ideas currently appearing in various online discussions.

  22. Henrique says:

    Lovelock never said that the humanity would survive its own huge increase on greenhouse gases. Actually he is known for calling for immediate action against Global Warming. Those who believe on the Gaia Theory see the humanity more like a virus than a part of Gaia. Gaia will survive human action but the humanity won’t survive as whole its own actions, that is what Lovelock always said. He never told us that Gaia would adapt itself in order to allow 7 Billion Humans to live on it….

  23. […] The end of Gaia: requiem for Lovelock’s hypothesis ( […]

  24. […] I am thinking is that the Gaia idea has run its course. If you read here, here and here it seems there are parallels between the belief in climate influenced by humans […]

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