Early Criticisms

Since its inception, the Gaia hypothesis has been controversial. For a few years, it was simply ignored. Further papers and presentations caught attention and the notion was widely castigated. It was criticized as being merely a restatement of ideas that already had a long history, as early as the work ofJames Hutton (1727-97), the founder of modern geoscience, who suggested that the study of Earth should be considered geophysiology. Further, Earth viewed as a single entity is in conflict with the fundamental ecological ideas of organisms engaged in Darwinian competition and narrowly defined survival and reproductive success. It has also been pointed out that maybe we do not need to invoke Gaia because proposed geochemical mechanisms can adequately explain many aspects of the Earth system without biological processes. Besides genuine weaknesses in the arguments, initial negative reactions to Gaia may in part be blamed on the lack of common language between Earth sciences and biology in the early 1970s.

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