Saturday, March 01, 2008

Initially ridiculed by many scientists as new age nonsense, today that theory forms the basis of almost all climate science.

A small prize (OK, absolutely nothing except your e-immortality assured in a blog comment) for anyone who can identify the subject of that sentence. Small hint: you won't find it in the IPCC report (not that I've searched the text, actually).

Lentil-munching sandal-wearing Grauniad readers need not apply (even if they haven't read it yet, cos being lentil-munching sandal-wearing Garudina readers they will instinctively know the answer anyway :-) ).

11 comments:

Callan Bentley said...

Gaia?

Chuck said...

I don't know about "new age", but the Clausius-Clapeyron equation was originally derided as a cheesy pop song.

Silver Fox said...

Uh... butterfly effect? Just a guess.

James Annan said...

We have a winner!

Congratulations Callan.

James Annan said...

Oh, by the way the whole article is here. And while a more integrated, wholistic approach to climate science is now increasingly common, I don't think I'm being overly dismissive in saying that Gaia forms no part whatsoever of the basic physical theory of climate (and climate change).

EliRabett said...

Being too lazy to Google will someone explain to me where Grauniad comes from

James Annan said...

Manchester, originally.

Oliver said...

James at 5: I think the work that Volk and Schwartzman did on life-mediated weathering after the first AGU Gaia conference, inspired by IIRC the 1982 Lovelock Watson paper, and associated stuff that has since fed itno Berner's Geocarb model, came out of a gaian perspective -- that "life sets the themostat" for the silicate weathering feedback by controlling weathering rate. Though this is probably not the sort of thing you were thinking of. Another possibility would be biogenic DMS as a player in ocean cloud formation. Not supporting the main claim, but I think "no part whatsoever" is over reaching.

Also, Lovelock's claim that when you can get the IGBP et al saying in the 2001 Amsterdam declaration that "The Earth System behaves as a single, self-regulating system comprised of physical, chemical, biological and human components" that takes in, at least at the rhetorical level, a fair amount of what was once Gaian.

Not to say that "Gaia theory" has as such had a huge effect, and what the IGBP says doesn't necessarily reflect the "basic physical theory of climate".

James Annan said...

Oliver,

I agree that various feedbacks have been considered, but there's a big difference between on the one hand looking at feedbacks, some positive, some negative, and on the other hypothesising that all living organisms act cooperatively to promote life. A whole lot of climate science doesn't consider the ecosystem as an interactive system in any meaningful manner at all (this is now changing, but it's still a big stretch to claim that it is based on Gaia).

P. Lewis said...

I think perhaps Eli's reference to Grauniad possibly refers to the spelling. Which, if he was, stems from The Guardian's erstwhile proliferation of tpyos [sic :-)] before the advent of spellcheckers and non-movable typesetting and the urban myth that they once misspelled their masthead.

TimC said...

I am not that hot on Gaia, but this post (by a phage hunter) may be of general interest...

"'Of the IN larger than 0.2 micrometer that were active at temperatures warmer than -7C, 69 to 100% were biological, and a substantial fraction were bacteria. Our results indicate that the biosphere is a source of highly active IN and suggest that these biological particles may affect the precipitation cycle and/or their own precipitation during atmospheric transport.'

"The reason I find this interesting is that I study P. syringae's phage: the cystoviridae. A recent report found that 'phages isolated from single clovers were not consistently more similar to each other than to phages isolated from sites across the country [i.e. opposite coasts] or from other previously isolated phages... These data are thus consistent with frequent continent-wide migration in the Cystoviridae.'"

Friday, February 29, 2008
Spora and Gaia: How Microbes Fly with Their Clouds
http://evilutionarybiologist.blogspot.com/2008/02/spora-and-gaia-how-microbes-fly-with.html