Blog

15th February 2021
Gaia Theory and a Remarkable Plant

A bit ‘sciencey’ to start off with, but bear with us…

When chemist James Lovelock proposed the Gaia Hypothesis in the 1970s, his work was quickly and fairly universally derided, and the main reason for the poor reception was that it was wrong.

Lovelock suggested that life on Earth is a self-regulating system involving the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the biosphere and the pedosphere, all of which work together as an evolving complex system.  He was in fact mainly correct, but the theory fell-down because it did not go far enough. Subsequent studies have conclusively shown that it is in fact the entire Earth system that is self-regulating and the entire planet seeks conditions that are optimal to its continued existence.

The Earth is Alive… Big stuff.

Lovelock’s original Gaia Hypothesis developed into the Gaia Theory, and in 2001 The European Geophysical Union signed the Declaration of Amsterdam, stating ‘The Earth System behaves as a single, self-regulating system with physical, chemical, biological, and human components.’

Now, we’re not scientists and the continued work involved in developing the theory and our understanding of such massive issues, is as they say ‘above our pay grade’.

However, we are plant people, our business is nature and we write extensively on the subject of biophilia, the benefits of plants and the environmental impact of the workplace environment.  As plant people we see the remarkable every day, as nature adapts and finds a way.

So, when we heard about the wonderful Moonflower that is about to bloom for the first time ever in the UK, we took a closer look, and we would urge you to do the same.

The Moonflower is in fact an extremely rare Amazon cactus, looked after and nurtured by the team at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. It will flower for just 12 night time hours before dying back, and in its short but spectacular life, its scent will go from ‘delightfully sweet’ to ‘something rancid’. There is a webcam trained on the plant, so you can watch it bloom live… but thankfully not smell it.

The Theory is one thing, but when you see something this astonishing, you can’t help but wonder about greater purposes.

(Photo credit: DR NILS KÖSTER)

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