Global warming poses an increasingly sizeable threat to the continued existence of man

Global warming poses an increasingly sizeable threat to the continued existence of man. James Lovelock, atmospheric chemist and author of Gaia warns that the gravity of the situation facing Earth's inhabitants is greater than we have yet realized and accepted. Lovelock sets forth his predictions -- and proposed solutions -- in a commentary piece published this week in Atmospheric Science Letters.

The laws of Gaia - a hypothesis set forth by Lovelock - imply that any species that makes changes in the composition of the air and the nature of the land surface risks altering the world to a state that will disfavour its progeny. In other words, if humans continue in their current path of alteration of the environment, they will become a target of elimination from the world.

In his commentary, Lovelock outlines the two major approaches to the threat of global warming. One approach, adopted by some, is to deny the existence of global warming and enjoy more temperate climates while they last. Others recognize the threat but choose to react in the Green way, eating organic foods, using renewable energy sources and alternative medicines. Lovelock argues that taking either of these approaches will ultimately result in the elimination of humans as well as civilization.

Instead, he believes that in order to come to terms with Gaia and its implications for the future of humans, we must embrace technology and use it to lessen our impact on the atmosphere of the Earth. Amongst his recommendations are: development of a portfolio of energy sources, including nuclear; adopting a practice of synthesizing food products, thereby allowing the Earth a chance to rest; and a reduced focus on the minute statistical risks of cancer from chemicals and radiation.

Finally, Lovelock points out that failure to concentrate efforts on the very real danger of global warming will result in a far more imminent threat of extinction than cancer, as demonstrated by the 20,000 Europeans who died during overheating in 2003. He concludes: "My hope lies in the powerful force that takes over our lives when our tribe or nation is threatened from outside…perhaps when the catastrophes of the intensifying greenhouse become frequent enough, we will pull together as a global unit with the self- restraint to stop burning fossil fuel and abusing the natural world."

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