The GAIA Theory
The similarities between our planet and our bodies are amazing, with profound implications for both.
In the 1960’s James Lovelock proposed what has become known as the Gaia Theory.
He 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 on this planet.
In short, that planet earth is a delicately balanced, self-regulating living system (ecosystem) striving for homeostasis (balance) to support life on the planet.
This mirrors the definition of human health: our body’s genetically programmed capacity to maintain homeostasis, and its innate ability to adapt to chemical, physical and emotional stressors that challenge that balance.
In short, our bodies are delicately balanced, self-regulating ecosystems, striving to maintain homeostasis (health) to support our life.
“In a way, to be human before the modern industrial era was to be an environmentalist.” Man lived in awe of, and in harmony with, nature; respectful of its power and grateful for its life-sustaining bounty. The industrial revolution heralded man’s disconnect from nature and the balance that sustains it. In the process, and in our wake, we have depleted its resources and polluted, challenging Gaia’s homeostasis.
Our planet is sick, and its temperature is rising.
As the disconnect with our planet widened, so did the disconnect with our own bodies and our health. We have become poor stewards of both.
What the industrial revolution has done to our planet the medical-pharmaceutical and processed food revolution has done to our bodies.
We routinely and unthinkingly consume and pollute our bodies with drugs and chemically laden processed and artificial foods and apply a chemical orgy of personal body-care products while we drink polluted water and breathe polluted air. We have challenged our body’s ability to maintain its homeostasis and, as individuals and as a species, we are sick.
What do you feel like when your temperature goes up 1 degree? Out of sorts? 2 degrees? Definitely not yourself. 3 degrees? Sick, and seeing your doctor. 4 degrees? Very sick, with medical interventions and possible hospital admissions. 5-6 degrees? Emergency measures are being implemented to lower the fever to save your life.
The rising temperatures on our planet are having the same effects.
As Native American Chief Seattle said: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
Or, as some graffiti I saw long ago said: “What we do to the earth we do to ourselves.”
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In our bodies every cell functions independently, interdependently and co-dependently. The same is true for all aspects of our planet. This is the concept of holism expressed in the Gaia Theory.
But, how can we expect someone who eats chemical foods, smokes, lives a sedentary indoor life and routinely consumes drugs for what ails them; someone who has no respect for the delicate balance of their own ecosystem, to understand that the melting of the polar ice caps and the loss of species has implications for the planet’s ability to support life on earth?
As author Micheal Pollan wrote in The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Nature's default is health. If we stop the devastation, and if it hasn’t gone too far, nature will restore the balance to support life on the planet.
Make no mistake about it: the planet is not in peril. Life on the planet, as we know it, is.
If you stop the devastation of your body with unnatural and toxic chemicals and give your body what needs in a pure and sufficient quantity, the inevitable result is improved health.
To save life on our planet, we must first save ourselves.