Climate change

He Knew He Was Right

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 November, 2009, 12:00am

He Knew He Was Right
by John & Mary Gribbin
Penguin, HK$142

If ever a book should be expanded, this is it. He Knew He Was Right tells the story of James Lovelock, who would probably have slipped quietly into retirement if not for the recent shift into respectability of his Gaia theory, the idea that the earth is a self-regulating organism that maintains optimal conditions for life. In the 1970s, his neighbour, novelist William Golding, suggested naming the hypothesis after the Greek earth goddess, initially attracting hippies but distancing scientists. John and Mary Gribbin, who have known Lovelock for more than 30 years, say the impetus for their book was a 2006 event at which they were struck by the response of young people to the British scientist. Lovelock has achieved much in his 90 years, the earlier part as a chemist and inventor: his medical research revealed, for example, that colds are most effectively spread by nasal secretions from noses to hands to faces. He detected the presence of chlorofluorocarbons in the air, which led to studies of their destructive impact on ozone. Not everyone will agree with his conclusions about global warming, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't read this book.