We are the
Guardians of Earth’s Spheres
Is Earth a superorganism? In the 1960s, English scientist James Lovelock formulated a new way to look at Earth. He named his hypothesis Gaia, after the Greek Earth goddess. The idea is that Earth is a superorganism, all of whose living and nonliving parts keep it healthy. Whether or not all of the details of Lovelock’s idea are correct, we know that our actions affect our environment. We are starting to understand how all of Earth’s spheres (land, air, and water) are connected to one another, to us, and to other life forms. How does car exhaust affect climate? How can a wood frog feel the impact of a lead mine 250 km away? You will learn more about Earth’s spheres and how people affect them in this chapter.
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