Out of Chaos, Mother Earth Gaea first came to existence. Full of life and power, Gaea created high mountains, low lands, rivers, lakes and seas.
Hesiod, around 700 BCE
For the old greek “Gaia” is the earth goddess, nowadays known as the term “Geo.” British author William Golding (1911-1993), awarded with the Nobel Prize for his novel “Lord of the Flies,” introduced the ancient term into modern usage. His neighbor in a small English village in Devonshire, physician and climatologist James Lovelock and biologist Lynn Margulis, developed the “Gaia Hypothesis” in 1970, suggesting that earth and its atmosphere is a complex and self-regulating living organism.
Our future depends much more upon a right relationship with Gaia than with the never ending drama of human interest.
They gave their theory the name Gaia, because of the special feature of Earth and its atmosphere, to create the necessary conditions of life for plants, animals, and human beings. Since then, the term Gaia has become a synonym for a new kind of understanding of our planetary eco system, and of ourselves, living within it.
We are not just passing into another historical period or another cultural modification. We are changing the chemistry of the planet. We are changing the bio-systems. We are changing the geo-systems of the planet on a scale of millions of years. Well where do we go from here? To my mind we go from the terminal phase – if we survive it – into a really sustainable world. And the primary principle is that the Universe – and in particular planet Earth – is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects. Without the soaring birds, without the great forests, the free-flowing streams, the sight of the clouds by day, and the stars by night, we become impoverished in all that makes us human.
A short history of Gaia
The earth is some 4,6 billion years old. For an easier understanding, let’s cut this time-span down to 46 years. The early years of Gaia’s existence are clouded in the mists of history. Within the first few decades first living beings occurred. After about 44 years, dinosaurs inhabited the planet. Some eight months ago the first mammals evolved, and during this last week the first hominids entered the scene. Modern man has existed for only about four hours; some sixty minutes ago he took up agriculture, and a minute ago the industrial revolution began. During these very last sixty seconds man has managed to turn Gaia into a garbage dump, to exterminate thousands of plant and animal species, to kill an uncountable number of his own kind, to loot the planet’s resources, to pollute soil, air and water and to leave radiating waste for future generations.
No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
Within the next few seconds, all of us will decide whether we are going to make life on our home planet impossible, or develop a consciousness that allows us a future existence on Gaia.