Photo: British environmental guru James Lovelock, seen on March 17, 2009 in Paris, admits he was "alarmist" about climate change in the past. (Jacques Demarthon/ AFP/Getty Images)
James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his “Gaia” theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being “alarmist” about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too.
Lovelock, 92, is writing a new book in which he will say climate change is still happening, but not as quickly as he once feared. He previously painted some of the direst visions of the effects of climate change. In 2006, in an article in the U.K.’s Independent newspaper, he wrote that “before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.” However, the professor admitted in a telephone interview with msnbc.com that he now thinks he had been “extrapolating too far." The new book, due to be published next year, will be the third in a trilogy, following his earlier works, “Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth Is Fighting Back – and How We Can Still Save Humanity,” and “The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning: Enjoy It While You Can.” The new book will discuss how humanity can change the way it acts in order to help regulate the Earth’s natural systems, performing a role similar to the harmonious one played by plants when they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.