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James Lovelock

Centenarian could hold key to brighter future

Climate protests by young people hit the headlines this year – but could the theories of a 100-year-old man hold the key to protecting our planet?

In the 1970s, James Lovelock created the Gaia Hypothesis, which views all life as regulating the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere and the cycling of essential elements.

Now – to mark his 100th birthday – he will visit the University of Exeter for a conference on how this can be applied to build a better future.

The conference – James Lovelock Centenary: The Future of Global Systems Thinking – will take place from July 29-31 and will hear from dozens of speakers on subjects ranging from climate change and plastic pollution to philosophy and poetry.

It is hosted by Exeter’s Global Systems Institute (GSI), which aims to bring together the widest possible range of people and organisations to find creative solutions to global problems.  

“James Lovelock is the father of thinking about the Earth as a living system,” said GSI director Professor Tim Lenton.

“Humans are now an integral part of that system, but we are living in times of extraordinary change of our own making.

“James Lovelock’s way of looking at the planet has inspired a whole generation of environmental scientists, and now it offers us a new way to look at our collective predicament and ask whether we can add a little self-awareness to the Earth’s natural self-regulation.”

This idea of the role of human self-awareness – known as Gaia 2.0 – is one of the key concepts to be discussed at the conference.

Talks at the conference will include:

-          Ros Rickaby – Co-evolution of life and the environment where adversity affords opportunity

-          Tim Flannery – Climate of Hope

-          Sander van der Leeuw – The information revolution in human systems

-          Amanda Power – Narrating a history beyond the triumph of humanity

To find out more about the programme and how to attend, visit:

Date: 17 July 2019

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