Vernadsky's Biosphere, Teilhard's Noosphere, and Lovelock's Gaia: Perspectives on Human Intervention in Global Biogeochemical Cycles

Serafin R (1987). Vernadsky's Biosphere, Teilhard's Noosphere, and Lovelock's Gaia: Perspectives on Human Intervention in Global Biogeochemical Cycles. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-87-096

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Abstract

Advances in analytical understanding of the biogeochemical cycles of the Biosphere have spawned the concepts of Gaia and Noosphere. Though seldom acknowledged today. it was the natural scientist Vladimir Vernadsky who first drew attention to the increasing scale of human intervention into planetary biogeochemical cycles. He did so in his book "Biosfera", published in 1926. In concert with the Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Vernadsky developed the notion of Noosphere -- an evolving collective human consciousness on Earth which was exerting an increasing influence on biogeochemical processes. More recently, the atmospheric chemist James Lovelock has introduced the notion of the Earth as Gaia. In an attempt to explain chemical disequilibria in the Earth's atmosphere, Lovelock has postulated the Earth to be a self-regulating system made up of biota and their environment with the capacity to maintain the Earth's environment in a steady state favorable to life. Gaia and Noosphere have come to represent contrasting interpretations of humanity's relation to planetary ecology, thereby providing potent symbols for human action. With rapid advances in instruments of measurement coupled with increased international scientific cooperation, an analytical science of the Biosphere is emerging. The contradictions of the nature-centered view of Gaia and the human-centered view of Noosphere could become irrelevant as a result.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: Biosphere Dynamics (BIO)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:57
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2016 03:02
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/2956

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