Saturday, 22 March 2008

Daily Mail: Gaia author: We're all doomed!

The first angel blew his trumpet, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were hurled to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. Revelation 7:7

[...] Nature is adapting to the changing climate and Lovelock argues that humankind will have to do the same. We will face a ruthless period of natural selection.

"I reckon there are about 80 per cent more people than the world can carry," he says sanguinely.

Geography will play the largest role in survival. By chance, Britain is well-placed for the new hot phase. An effect of the changes will be the end of the Gulf Stream which keeps Britain warm.

So the climbing temperatures will be countered by cooler water. However, our European neighbours will not be so fortunate. "A lot of people who come here will be Europeans," predicts Lovelock.

"If you take the IPCC predictions, then by 2040 every summer in Europe will be as hot as it was in 2003 - between 110F and 120F. It is not the death of people that is the main problem, it is the fact that the plants can't grow. There will be almost no food grown in Europe.

"By 2040, parts of the Sahara desert will have moved into middle Europe. We are talking about Paris. As far north as Berlin. In Britain we will escape because of our oceanic position."

But Britain will not be entirely unaffected. According to Lovelock, rising sea levels will threaten central London, Cambridge and Somerset.

"We should do what the Dutch have done, and build a sea wall - or abandon the middle of London and have it as a lagoon city. Parliament and the City could relocate to higher ground."

The consequences of climate change are a science fiction nightmare. The writer of Dr Who, Russell T. Davies, once told me the only plot he would avoid was the environment because he could not give audiences a happy ending.

Yet Lovelock contemplates catastrophe almost with excitement. I ask why is he not terrified.

He answers that he has never lost a single night's sleep over the future. Scientific interest overcomes self-interest. He has a humility about the place of humans in the 3.5 billion year lifespan of the Earth. He talks not of people but of "our species".

He passionately wants "the best of our species" to survive, and is philosophical about the majority who won't.

"It will be a challenging and difficult life ahead but it will bring out the best in us. It will bring the most awful problem for our people and our Government. Read more
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