The Gia Hypothesis, (also known as Gia Theory or Gia Principle) revolves around the idea that the world exists in a state of relative balance, and when the balance is thrown off, then the planet tries to compensate to redress the balance. Some have taken this to mean that the world is somehow conscious and able to heal itself, when in fact the world simply exists within the boundaries of natural laws and compensates accordingly when things are shifted outside the balanced boundaries. One of the problems with climate change and human action is that the planet is unable to fix the human problem, and so is destined to be destroyed because the planet cannot redress the balance. What is more worrying is that the planet may flip the switch the other way and start redressing a different balance. My essay attempts to explain how the Gia hypothesis and human-prompted climate change may occur. (Harding, 2006)
The planet may be able to redress the balance if a sunspot creates a shift in the temperature, or if a natural disaster takes out a large section of rain forest. The reason for this is because the damage can be healed over time, and the healing begins as soon as the problem has passed. For example, though a large section of rain forest disappearing is going to affect the global climate in one way or another, the fact is that seeds will grow and eventually the rain forest will return. However, in the case of human-prompted climate change, the original problem persists, and the only way the planet may redress the problem is if the world becomes inhospitable to human life. At that point, the earth may start to heal and return to its pre-human-prompted-climate-change state. That is assuming that the planet is even able to return to its pre-human-prompted-climate-change state because one assumes that if human life cannot live on the planet, then millions of other species also cannot live on the planet, and the planet needs those species to help it return to how it was before humans started getting involved. (Lovelock & James, 2009)
The earth will react to natural laws and try to redress the balance, but the “balance” is not a set metric, which means the balance may change. For example, if every green piece of flora on the earth was wiped out by a dangerous chlorophyll virus, then the world would take so long to return to the state it was that it would never return. In essence, the balance that it is trying to redress would change. What worries many people is what happens if the earth’s balance shifts quickly. Remember that the Gia hypothesis states that the earth will alter its conditions to help it reach its natural balance, but what if the natural balance changes so that the earth starts altering its conditions to create a planet that is very different from how it is today. (Lovelock & Giffin, 1969)
A good example of a sudden shift of the earths balance may occur at the earth’s polar ice caps. Under some of the massive sheets of ice are dead trees and plant life that has not yet rotted. If the ice were to melt, a massive amount of rotting would take place that would add to the world’s greenhouse gasses and warm up the earth in a very speedy manner. The sharp increase would melt more ice, which would further the problem, and not only would weather systems change, but so would the sea’s currents as more and more freshwater is dumped into the ocean. Such a radical shift in temperature, weather systems and currents would create the type of chaos that would make returning to the original balance impossible. In fact, the balance the earth would reach would be that of either a world covered in sea, or what eventually becomes a barren wasteland where no life can exist. (Berner, 1999)
The way to change global warming and global cooling (aka climate change) is to concentrate on technology and innovation. The Flash drive has saved more trees than every single charity benefit on the planet, and the Internet has saved more trees than Flash drives, plus the Internet has saved more carbon entering the atmosphere than every single renewable energy investment known to humankind. Inventions that were meant for something else had the side effect of saving millions of trees and lowering greenhouse gas emissions on epic levels, and there is still more than technology can do. (Lenton & Lovelock, 2000)
Cleaner energy transport is becoming more cost effective because fossil fuels are rising in price, and things such as energy-saving devices are becoming cost effective for the same reason. Buying a more expensive and more efficient washing machine is cost effective because washing machines last a long time, and even though you only save a small amount per wash, the savings add up over the years and years the washing machine is in use. Being energy efficient is cost effective, and this is yet more proof that technology will save us from climate change far quicker than charity benefits and marching on the capital will because there is a financial incentive to being green.
Berner, R. A. (Sep 1999). “Atmospheric oxygen over Phanerozoic time”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 96 (20)
Harding, Stephan (2006). Animate Earth. Chelsea Green Publishing. p. 65.
Lenton, TM; Lovelock, JE (2000). “Daisyworld is Darwinian: Constraints on adaptation are important for planetary self-regulation”. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 206 (1): 109–14.
Lovelock & Giffin (1969). “Planetary Atmospheres: Compositional and other changes associated with the presence of Life”. Advances in the Astronautical Sciences. 25: 179–193.
Lovelock & James. (2009) The Vanishing Face of Gaia. Basic Books, 2009, pp. 195-197.