Topic: Gaia

Gaia (origin: collective and James E. Lovelock & Lynn Margulis)

Gaia, also known as the Gaia Hypothesis, was named after the Greek Goddess of Earth. The Gaia Hypothesis states that Earth is a self-regulating entity which keeps the planet functioning to serve all life that resides on it. Some examples of the Earth as self-regulating are changes in temperature, shifting plates, or even aquatic organisms creating elements that land needs.

While the Western understanding of Gaia was generated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970’s–making it a relatively new theory of how the planet functions–Gaia as a concept has been around for centuries. The name Gaia derives from Greek mythology, but many Indigenous cultures and religions across the globe view the Earth as sacred and a living being and give her other names such as Pachamama (Indigenous people of the Andes) and Bhumi (Hindu). In 20th century popular culture, Mother Earth became a popular characterization of this concept of a caring personification of the planet.

Seeing that human behavior has caused so much interference and harm to Mother Earth, some scientists believe we have messed with the self-regulatory flow (see Anthropocene) which has led to a new theory of “Gaia 2.0,” according to Osborne at Newsweek. This is where we as humans become aware that we have the power to manipulate and manage these self-regulating systems. However, some scientists question how much power humans have over the Earth’s flow since, if humans were to go extinct, Earth would still be here, self-regulating its new systems.

©2024 ClimateLit (Amalia Oien)

Related Terms: AnthropoceneClimate ChangeAnimismVitalismPachamama, Earth’s AlivenessMother Earth

Want to learn more? Check out the following:

Boston, P.J. “Gaia Hypothesis.” Science Direct, 2008,

Osborne, Hannah. “Humans Have Altered Earth’s Self-Regulation System.” Newsweek, Newsweek, 18 Sept. 2018

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by Jon Scieszka

“So now it’s up to you to figure a way out. You can: a) Burn less fossil fuels or b) Find another planet with air and water and plants and animals, just like Me.”

by Jon Scieszka

“That’s it, Homo Sapiens—the hard and inescapable truth. I am your Perfect Planet. I will take care of you. But you have to take care of me”

by Brian Selznick

“Merwin. All life is in danger. Remember, life began as a gift, and it must always be treated as such. No matter how unstoppable the danger seems, no matter how unavoidable, there’s always something you can do.”

by Stacy McAnulty

“You can call me Planet Awesome.”

by Ben Okri

“You humans seem to think that we trees are just decoration. But we are beings like you. We feel. We respond to love and attention. You should see how we glow when we are loved.”

by Joyce Sidman

“Earth, we know you can’t answer all our questions in words. You answer in other ways.”

by Guerrilla Games

“It’s not about the distant hope of creating a new world. It’s about preserving the one we have.”

by John Musker, Ron Clements

“I know who you are / Who you truly are”

by Patricia MacLachlan

“She guards all the creatures in all the oceans—the black manta rays sleek like shadows, the shining parrot fish, the tiny krill who swim with millions of other krill to look big. And the whales who are big.”

by Carlos López Estrada, Don Hall

“Now to restore peace, I must find the last dragon. My name is Raya.”

by Don Hall

“This place is alive. It’s a living thing! We didn’t find the heart of Pando. We found an actual heart.”

by April Pulley Sayre

“Thank you for beginnings, / for endings, / for lifetimes. Thank you for being / our home”

by Peter Brown

“The garden had always wanted to explore the rest of the city, and that spring it was finally ready to make its move”

by Micha Archer

“I wonder.” “Me too.”