James Lovelock discussed his concerns about the impending consequences of global warming at the Royal Society lecture, “Climate change on the living Earth“.
He notes that although the scientific language of the IPCC report is “properly cautious”, it gives the impression that the worst consequences of climate change are avoidable if we take action now. Instead, his view of the future is much more frightening. Even if we act now Professor Lovelock believes that we will be faced with ever diminishing supplies of food and water in an increasingly intolerable climate. Whole ecosystems will become extinct. He argues that we have set off a vicious cycle of positive feedback in the earth system whereby extra heat in the atmosphere from any source is amplified, causing yet more warming. His solution involves two important aspects: We must recognise that the complexity of the system we are in (the biosphere) is beyond our scientific comprehension at the moment; And we must realign our modern infrastructure and systems to work with the natural systems rather than against them as is now the case. Lovelock concludes “We are not merely a disease; we are through our intelligence and communication the planetary equivalent of a nervous system. We should be the heart and mind of the Earth not its malady.”