Friday, 23 May 2014

James Lovelock:A true maverick of our time

Ways of seeing, ways of thinking
The recent publication of A Rough Guide to the Future is the perfect excuse to delve into the extraordinary figure that is the English scientist, environmentalist and writer James Lovelock.At 94, he is still going strong, defiant and controversial as usual.
He rose to fame in the 1970s when he published his Gaia theory, in which he argued that the Earth is a self-regulating entity, thus completely changing the way we understand and talk about the Earth.
Fiercely independent, he remains a true maverick who lives and works outside the main academic headquarters; his views are, therefore, rather unconventional and usually manage to enrage fellow scientists. His latest work, which I haven't read yet, seems to continue in the footsteps of previous books.
His staunch support of nuclear power and his scepticism towards renewable energies made him no friends among environmental campaigners; to many, this amounts to an irrational prejudice with no real scientific basis. In a recent interview in The Guardian he claims that the UK government should promote fracking, which again may raise a few eyebrows.
But for all these controversies and his perhaps sometimes misguided stance, Lovelock is by and large one of the most interesting voices in the scientific world whose curiosity and approach make him a true thinker of our time, an inventor and a person able to understand our future challenges like few do.