Friday, 14 February 2014

Wellies and Gaia

We all have great sympathy with the population currently suffering from the current flooding and watch with dismay people being injured and even killed, trees uprooted and property damaged.We empathise at the huge efforts that homeowners are having to go to in order to keep their houses safe and dry.
Livestock has been displaced, wildlife has sustained heavy losses and habitats and many SSSI destroyed.
We watch with fascination the "News Specials' on the current weather anomalies and many theories abound as to the causes and the blame game has begun. 

Politicians are derided as they jostle to take centre stage in what may prove to be their 'Hurricane Katrina moment'. 
Sales of Hunter wellies, North Face and Berghaus jackets and waders so beloved of news reporters tv presenters have gone through the roof. Every cloud etc.

Whatever the causes or indeed if it's just a natural weather/climate phenomenon, it's always a good time to consider our role in the earth and adopt an earth based religion as well as a spiritual one. Gaia is always a good starting point.

 Below is part of an essay written by James Lovelock.

We now see that the air, the ocean and the soil are much more than a mere environment for life; they are a part of life itself. Thus the air is to life just as is the fur to a cat or the nest for a bird. Not living but something made by living things to protect against an otherwise hostile world. For life on Earth the air is our protection against the cold depths and fierce radiations of space.

There is nothing unusual in the idea of life on Earth interacting with the air, sea and rocks, but it took a view from outside to glimpse the possibility that this combination might consist of a single giant living system and one with the capacity to keep the Earth always at a state most favorable for the life upon it.

An entity comprising a whole planet and with a powerful capacity to regulate the climate needs a name to match. It was the novelist William Golding who proposed the name Gaia. Gladly we accepted his suggestion and Gaia is also the name of the hypothesis of science which postulates that the climate and the composition of the Earth always are close to an optimum for whatever life inhabits it.

The evidence gathered in support of Gaia is now considerable but as is often the way of science, this is less important than is its use as a kind of looking glass for seeing the world differently, and which makes us ask new questions about the nature of Earth.

If we are "all creatures great and small," from bacteria to whales, part of Gaia then we are all of us potentially important to her well being. We knew in our hearts that the destruction of a whole range of other species was wrong but now we know why. No longer can we merely regret the passing of one of the great whales, or the blue butterfly, nor even the smallpox virus. When we eliminate one of these from Earth, we may have destroyed a part of ourselves, for we also are a part of Gaia.

There are many possibilities for comfort as there are for dismay in contemplating the consequences of our membership in this great commonwealth of living things. It may be that one role we play is as the senses and nervous system for Gaia. Through our eyes she has for the first time seen her very fair face and in our minds become aware of herself. We do indeed belong here. The earth is more than just a home, it's a living system and we are part of it.