James Lovelock

From Academic Kids

James Ephraim Lovelock (born July 26, 1919), FRS, is an independent scientist, author, researcher and environmentalist who lives in Cornwall, in the west of England. He is most famous for proposing and popularizing the Gaia hypothesis, in which he postulates that the Earth functions as a kind of superorganism (term coined by Lynn Margulis).


Life history

Lovelock was born in Letchworth Garden City. He studied chemistry at the University of Manchester before taking up a Medical Research Council post at the Institute for Medical Research in London.

In 1948 he received a Ph.D. in medicine at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Within the United States he has conducted research at Yale, Baylor University College of Medicine, and Harvard University.

Professional career

A lifelong inventor, he created inventions of which some were adopted by NASA in its program of planetary exploration. It was while working for NASA that Lovelock developed the Gaia Hypothesis.

Lovelock worked for NASA on the Mars Viking program spacecraft project during the 1960s. While working with NASA he determined that the Martian atmosphere was in a stable condition, very little oxygen, methane, and hydrogen and an overwheming abundance of carbon dioxide. This was indicative of the absence of life on the planet. NASA ignored his advice and went to Mars anyway to search for evidence of life and found none.

Lovelock invented the Electron Capture Detector.

Lovelock is currently president of the Marine Biological Association, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974, and in 1990 was awarded the first Amsterdam Prize for the Environment by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. An independent scientist, inventor, and author, Lovelock works out of a barn-turned-laboratory in Cornwall.

Lovelock was among the first researchers to sound the alarm about the threat of global warming from the greenhouse effect. In 2004 he caused a sensation when he broke with many fellow environmentalists by pronouncing that "Only nuclear power can now halt global warming." In his view, nuclear energy is the only realistic alternative to fossil fuels that has the capacity to fulfill the large scale energy needs of mankind while reducing greenhouse emissions.

In 2005, Lovelock publicly announced his support for nuclear energy, stating, "I am a Green, and I entreat my friends in the movement to drop their wrongheaded objection to nuclear energy." He cites the environmental impact of other energy sources which burn fossil fuels and carbon-based material, which predominate currently. [1] (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/09/opinion/09kristof.html?hp)


  • Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (1979, 3rd ed. 2000) Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192862189
  • The Greening of Mars (1984) Co-authored by Michael Allaby. Warner Books. ISBN 0446329673
  • Ages of Gaia (1988, revised ed. 1995) Oxford University Press ISBN 0393312399
  • Gaia: The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine Gaia Books (1991 ed.) Oxford University Press (2001 ed.) ISBN 0195216741
  • Homage to Gaia: The Life of an Independent Scientist Oxford University Press (2000) ISBN 0198604297 (Lovelock's autobiography)

External links

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