Facing Gaia: Eight lectures on the new climaticregime
Polity, $42.95 pb, 334 pp, 9780745684338
Have you heard of the Anthropocene, the so-called Age of Humans? Our geological epoch has been renamed because human influences on Earth are so profound that not only is our climate changing, but so are our soils, water, and social order. Bruno Latour, prolific French philosopher and historian of science, dedicates his book, Facing Gaia, to this ‘new climatic regime’, which leads to questions no smaller than how the Anthropocene changes our understanding of the planet, species, and politics. As the title indicates, the book is centred around the ancient Greek goddess Gaia, who became patron of the scientific Gaia theory developed by British chemist James Lovelock and American microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1960s and 1970s. But why does a respectable science philosopher born of the French academies devote his book to the ‘monstrous, shameless, primitive’ Gaia when facing this new reality that will determine war and peace, food and water? Why do we need a silly goddess for serious times? The answer is intricately woven and presented in eight lectures, originally drafted for the Gifford Lectures in Edinburgh, and translated back and forth between English and French.