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GaiaGaia (ger.)

  • The global ecosystem, understood to function in the manner of a vast self-regulating organism, in the context of which all living things collectively define and maintain the conditions conducive to life on earth; (also) the theory which proposes this. (OED)
    biosphere ecosphere

    The purpose of this letter is to suggest that life at an early stage of its evolution acquired the capacity to control the global environment to suit its needs and that this capacity has persisted and is still in active use. In this view the sum total of species is more than just a catalogue, "The Biosphere", and like other associations in biology is an entity with properties greater than the simple sum of its parts. Such a large creature, even if only hypothetical, with a powerful capacity to homeostat the planetary environment needs a name; I am indebted to Mr William Golding for suggesting the use of the Greek personification of mother Earth, “Gaia”.

    Lovelock, J.E. (1972). Gaia as seen through the atmosphere. Atmospheric Environment 6, 579-580: 579.

    teleological Gaia
    Lovelock, J.E. & Margulis, L. (1974). Atmospheric homeostasis by and for the biosphere: the gaia hypothesis. Tellus 26, 1-10.
    For the analogy to apply strictly, there would to have been a set of rival Gaias, presumably on different planets. […] In addition we would have to postulate some kind of reproduction, whereby successful planets spawned copies of their life forms on new planets
    Dawkins, R. (1982). The Extended Phenotype: 236.

    The name of the living planet, Gaia, is not a synonym for the biosphere. The biosphere is defined as that part of the Earth where living things normally exist. Still less is Gaia the same as the biota, which is simply the collection of all individual living organisms. The biosphere and the biota taken together form part but not all of Gaia. Just as the shell is part of a snail, so the rocks, the air, and the oceans are part of Gaia.

    Lovelock, J.E. (1988). The Ages of Gaia. A Biography of Our Living Earth: 10.

    Leben und seine Umgebung sind so eng miteinander verflochten, daß eine Evolution immer Gaia betrifft, nicht die Organismen oder deren Umgebung für sich genommen
    Lovelock, J.E. (1991). Das Gaia-Prinzip: 43.
    [Abhängigkeit der Organismen und ihrer Umwelt, insofern] die zu Gaia gehörenden Organismen, genauso wie sich die Zellen unseres Körpers ihre eigene Umgebung erschaffen und vice versa von dieser erzeugt werden, ihre eigenen Milieus hervorbringen und umgekehrt auch von diesen hervorgebracht werden
    Sahtouris, E. (1993). Gaia. Vergangenheit und Zukunft der Erde: 82.

    The term ‘Gaia’, like ecosphere, is a name for the sum of living things and their supporting environment. In its most extreme form, Gaia refers to the entire planet as a living entity.

    Huggett, R.J. (1999). Ecosphere, biosphere, or Gaia? What to call the global ecosystem. Global Ecol. Biogeograph. 8, 425-431: 425.