The theory of Gaia, first proposed by James Lovelock*, describes the Earth’s
surface as a single, interactive, living system that surrounds the planet for
30 or 40 kilometers, ranging from deep ocean vents, to the upper atmosphere.
Gaia is a planetary ecosystem that incorporates all life forms, air, water,
rock, and soil. The Earth’s collective surface forms a geological,
physiological, and chemical feedback network that has persisted for millions
of years in a continuous state of equilibrium.*
Gaia is not considered an organism. All known organisms have a specific
mechanism for reproduction, which a planetary ecosystem does not. Also,
organisms cannot live exclusively on their own waste products.
Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan have theorized that Gaia is a natural selector.
Their answer to the question ‘What is actually doing the selecting in natural
selection?' is Gaia.**
All living systems are connected in time by common ancestry. ‘Darwin’s legacy
is that of connectedness in time.’ While Gaia, the integration of global
environments, represents life forms that are connected in space.**
* James Lovelock (1988), Vladimir Vernadsky (1998),
** Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan (2001)