British scientist James Lovelock, who dedicated his life to the global green movement, died on his 103rd birthday, his family has said.
His 1960’s Gaia Theory The Earth, from rocks to air, was a vastly interconnected and automated system that formed the basis of much of climatology. And he warned that climate change could be a turning point for the planet.
But his support for nuclear power and fracking attracted criticism from other environmentalists.
While working for NASA in the 1960s, Lovelock had a eureka moment when he realized that living things profoundly affected the environment around him. This gave rise to the radical idea that there was a living, connected system on Earth from the oceans to every living organism.
Some scientists even refer to the idea as a “new age”. But the theory spread and became the basis for the growing green movement.
Lovelock also revealed that the chemicals were destroying the ozone layer. He later became an independent scientist and was inspired to tell the enormous danger a warm world posed to life.
Science Museum Group science director Dr Roger Highfield said: “Jim was a nonconformist who had a unique vantage point that came from being, as he put it, half scientist and half inventor.
“Endless ideas bubbled forth from this synergy between making and thinking.” Lovelock’s dedication to warning the world about climate change meant he carried on working past retirement age.
“My main reason for not relaxing into contented retirement is that, like most of you, I am deeply concerned about the probability of massively harmful climate change and the need to do something about it now,” he said in 2011.
And two years ago, he said the biosphere – all systems of life on Earth – was on its last 1% of energy.
His family said: “Our beloved James Lovelock died yesterday in his home surrounded by his family on his 103rd birthday. “To the world, he was best known as a scientific pioneer, climate prophet and conceiver of the Gaia theory.
“To us, he was a loving husband and wonderful father with a boundless sense of curiosity, a mischievous sense of humour and a passion for nature.”