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Friday, November 19, 2010

List 4.2. Climate change and GAIA theory.


List 4.2. Climate change and GAIA theory.                             4-5 level      40-50 min

GOAL. To listen with different aims while discovering the world of scientists at work on a current issue.

TASK 1. Identikit: who is who? Fill in the blanks with the words below.
Dr James Ephraim Lovelock is an .......................... scientist, author, researcher, .......................... who lives in ........................... He is most famous for proposing and .......................... the Gaia theory.
Britain     popularizing      independent       environmentalist

TASK 2. State your  percentatge of agreement with these four controversial statements:
Statement 1: ........... %,                                     Statement 2: ........%.,                                     Statement 3: ........ %


  I.             The climate and the chemical properties of the Earth now and throughout its history seem always to have been optimal for life. For this to have happened by chance is as unlikely as to survive unscathed a drive blindfold through rush hour traffic.

II.              In the current fashionable denigration of technology, it is easy to forget that nuclear fission is a natural process. If something as intricate as life can assemble by accident, we need not marvel at the fission reactor, a relatively simple contraption, doing likewise.
    III.         We have since defined Gaia as a complex entity involving the Earth's biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and soil; the totality constituting a feedback or cybernetic system which seeks an optimal physical and chemical environment for life in this planet.    [source:  http://en.wikiquote.org ]  




Go to bbc.uk.co and entry [lovelok audio]. There were 2 programs in July ‘06.



TASK 3. Listen to different reactions to his most recent work on 4 Jul 2006.  Pasages are short (40 to 90 seconds). A panel of experts is meeting to debate James Lovelock's  book, the Revenge of Gaia.




1.1. Why does Brian Hoskins agree the idea that there is a risk of "doing something very serious to the climate system" ........................................... ................................................................................

1.2. Where doesn’t he? ...........................................................................................................................






2.1. Does Vicky Pope agree on the changes predicted by Lovelock being a climate scientist? ............

2..2. What is the important contribution of the book though? ...............................................................




3.1. Why doesn’t he agree on his scenario for 2050? .....................................................................

.................................................................................................................................................


Listen to Susan Owens talk about the three the issues Professor Lovelock raises in the book that worry her. Write her views on these four topics.

4.1. Any real action for a global government?..........................

4.2. The best example of technical issues to become political? .....................

4.3. Impact of human beings on the planet? .......................................

4.4. On effects of population and consumption as shown in the book: ............................





TASK 4. As for Lovelock’s presentations, fill in the gaps in the texts below.

Q1. Those were his words at an acceptance speech:


“I hope that I have shown that science can still be a vocation, not just a ……………………. Something that can even be done at home, in the way an artist or novelist works. Doing  ……………………. science this way and with walks through the countryside and on the …………………….  has kept me in touch with the natural world.”.

Q2. For his Gaia theory:


“I My Gaia theory is a serious ………………………. hypothesis that suggests the planet is one ……………………….  , and what we do to one part of it  ……………………….  affects the whole.



seashore    inevitably    career scientific    organism   environmental

TASK 5. Listen to Lovelock’s arguments in a following program on 6 Jul 2006. 

Reaction from Dr James Lovelock      (4 minutes)

Q1. What is the main aim of his book? .....................................

Q2. In which aspects has he been misunderstood?  ....................................................................

Q3. Where is he a real pessimistic? ........................................... ................................................



TASK 5. Listen to the first 3 minutes of a program where an expert panel convened by BBC News concluded that climate change is "real and dangerous" in the same program on  6 Jul 2006.  Write notes on what you hear in the box below.    Climate change 'real and severe'     (6 minutes)















TASK 6. Which are the two strongest arguments they agree with on the worrying forecasts? ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................


Do you agree with the verdict of these experts on our 5 predicitons?

4. A temperature rise of 3C to 5C would probably bring catastrophic changes for humans. VERDICT: YES 0, NO 3, ABSTAIN 4


8. James Lovelock's metaphor that the Earth will react against us like an irritant if we continue treating it this way is helpful in public understanding. VERDICT: YES 5, NO 2


10. Politicians need to draw on intuition in formulating climate policy. VERDICT: YES 5, NO 1, ABSTAIN 1


11. Professor Lovelock insufficiently acknowledges in the book the uncertainty over how hot the climate will become.VERDICT: YES 5, NO 1, ABSTAIN 1


15. In the UK context, Professor Lovelock is wrong in the book to reject wind power. VERDICT: YES 7, NO 0



ROUND OFF. Listen to the first eight minutes of this BBC's interview in its series of programmes on Climate Change.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/hardtalk/3937609.stm  (23:42 in Realplayer)

Make notes on the main statements of his thesis.  [source: HARDtalk interview on 29th July, Lyse Doucet talks to James Lovelock. ]


FOLLOW UP. For science stories visit http://www.uh.edu/engines/  The Engines of Our Ingenuity is a 5-minute radio program that tells the story of how our culture is formed by human creativity. This web site houses the transcripts for every episode heard (more than 2000). Worth a visit.


Listen 4.2. Climate change and GAIA theory             KEY                       


 TASK 1&2.  Open
TASK 3. A panel of experts debates Lovelock's  book, the Revenge of Gaia.
#1.  Brian Hoskins shares Lovelock’s analysis, experiments show clear damage, BUT he is not as gloomy and pessimistic about the implications.
#2.  Vicky Pope agrees partially on Lovelock’s predictions. But the book makes us think about the whole isssue of climate change, and it is the global institutional agenda.
#3 Von Storch can not share Lovelock’s zeitgeist (vision of the future time) as he predicts just another direction for climate changes
#4 Susan Owens: 4.1. No real action for a global government.
4.2. The best example of technical issues to become political: Nuclear energy.
4.3. Impact of human beings on the planet? 60 % agreement.
4.4. On effects of population and consumption as shown in the book: quite political issues, difficult to address.

TASK 5. Listen to Lovelock’s arguments in a following program on 6 Jul 2006. 
Reaction from Dr James Lovelock      (4 minutes)
Q1. What is the main aim of his book?  A wake up call
Q2. In which aspects has he been misunderstood?  it’s been taken on the extremes, apocaliptic.
Q3. Where is he a real pessimistic?  Bilions of people will have not food, that means migrations and many might die.

FOLLOW UP. For science stories visit http://www.uh.edu/engines/  The Engines of Our Ingenuity is a 5-minute radio program that tells the story of how our culture is formed by human creativity. This web site houses the transcripts for every episode heard (more than 2000). Worth a visit.

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