16 Jan 2017

At ... is a great post by Clive Hambler, an Oxford lecturer in biology (at Merton college, St Annes, Pembroke, Oriel and Hertford). He works in Oxford University's faculties of zoology, geography and anthropology and is co-author of 'Conservation' published by Oxford University Press.

This is one of those missives that challenge the Green machine as he is obviously a fan of James Lovelock. He begins by saying that people believe basic physics is sufficient to predict that earth will warm in response to increasing levels of co2. He then sets out his arguments why this might not be so. One of these is that negative feedback may be a factor in as far as Life (Gaia) may have stabilised the climate at some point in earth's history - at what he says are geological time scales and in recent decades. Was the latter a reference to 'the pause' in rising temperatures - but see the comments for a reaction on this. The biology of such a stabilisation is not a settled science - muddied he says by evolutionary controversies (presumably punctuated evolution as opposed to ongoing evolution). He argues that advanced biology counters global climate change - the idea the earth system, or Gaia is virtually a living thing of itself. 

He says one word should be enough to cast doubt on all models of the atmosphere - oxygen. Most atmospheric oxygen derives from living organisms, he claims. Physics and chemistry are therefore unable to explain atmospheric composition or its properties. As James Lovelock postulated in his Gaia Hypothesis in the 1970s, the properties of our atmosphere result from the tight coupling of living and non-living components (biota and abiota) etc etc. There are three dense pages of arguments that were originally published in the journal Bulletin of the British Ecological Society under the heading, 'Thank you for Gaia' (by Clive Hambler). This is one of those subjects that you are 'full on' or 'cut loose' but whatever persuasion it's a good read.