Gaia System Suffering From Human Impact, Claims Huxley's Great Grandson

Imperial College Of London
Friday, October 26, 2007

The potentially devastating impact of humans on the global environment should act as the catalyst for rethinking the future direction of society, an Oxford University environmentalist will claim at the inaugural T.H Huxley lecture at Imperial College London.

Press are invited to the College to attend this Thursday (18 October) evening’s lecture on, ‘Earth system science: Gaia and the human impact’, delivered by Sir Crispin Tickell, Director of the Policy Foresight Programme at the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilisation at Oxford University.

Sir Crispin will discuss the Gaia hypothesis, which proposes that living and nonliving parts of the earth are a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism. Named after the Greek earth goddess, this hypothesis postulates that all living things have a regulatory effect on the Earth's environment that promotes life overall.

Sir Crispin will talk about human impacts since the industrial revolution, which he claims have placed enormous pressures on the ‘Gaia system’. He will consider societal changes that need to be made in order to address this environmental imbalance.

Professor Martin Blunt, Head of the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, welcomed Sir Crispin’s lecture:

“The Imperial professor, Thomas H Huxley, for whom this annual lecture programme is named, was among those who correctly assessed the importance of living organisms in the character and functioning of the global environment. It is particularly fitting to have Sir Crispin visiting to discuss the Gaia hypothesis since it is an extension of Huxley’s original assessments.”

Professor Blunt went on to highlight the historical significance of the lecture:

“Huxley is one of the great figures in Imperial’s history and also Sir Crispin’s great grandfather, which makes the lecture all the more fitting during our year long Centenary celebrations.”

The T H Huxley Inaugural Lecture, ‘Earth system science: Gaia and the human impact’ will be held at room 1.47, Royal School of Mines Building, South Kensington Campus, Prince Consort Road, Imperial College London. The lecture will start at 17.30, Thursday 18 October 2007. Journalists wishing to attend should contact Imperial’s Press Officer, Colin Smith.

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