I was about to describe James Lovelock as the spiritual father of the Deep Time Walk, but this one label would not give justice to his myriad outstanding achievements. Although I have read one of his books, “Gaia: A new look at life on Earth”, which is the background to much of the Deep Time Walk, I hadn’t until now fully taken on how much he had accomplished in his time, and the huge contribution he has made to our understanding of Earth and beyond. Much of our understanding of climate science, the ozone layers and the interconnectedness of everything on Earth comes from him. I won’t recap his life story here and instead invite the reader to refer to one of the many obituaries that are readily available such as that by the ABC or the BBC.
James Lovelock’s lifespan far exceeded that of almost anyone else but he never retired. Such was his sense of urgency about the climate crisis that he was driven to act until he was far beyond the age of 100. In Deep Time Walk notation, 100 is one-tenth of a millimetre in the 4.6km walk. 100 years can seem totally insignificant in the context of Earth’s history but during Lovelock’s lifespan not only did the world completely change, but he created so much awareness about the implications of those changes and the imperative to slow down the rate of change and preserve the natural environment.
My next Deep Time Walk is on Sunday 28th August, 1-4pm along the bay, near Elwood. I plan to dedicate that walk to the memory of James Lovelock, but in many ways each walk is dedicated, as I track the increasing interconnectedness of life and non-life and the development of a truly Gaian planet.