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Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia

2011, Environment  -   15 Comments
Ratings: 6.69/10 from 29 users.

Our world's in crisis and like many others Dr. Stephan Harding believes that science has contributed to the many ecological problems we're now facing, but he also thinks that science has the answer.

In this time of increasing environmental problems we need a science that not only makes us clever but also makes us wise. Dr. Stephan is a scientists and he really values science and technology.

After all they've revolutionized our lives in a very short time frame and given us a fantastic understanding of the world but they've also contributed to the potentially catastrophic consequences of our unsustainable lifestyles.

He's resident ecologist at Schumacher College in Devon which he helped to start 20 years ago. One of their intentions was to explore a new kind of science which could balance rational knowledge with intuitive wisdom. Now people come there from all over the world to explore the causes of the ecological crisis and to look for sustainable solutions. But Dr. Stephan's relationship with science wasn't always like this. Thirty years ago he underwent a transformation that convinced him that there had to be more to science than conventional, analytical reasoning.

He's always had a passion for the natural world and so that led him to science, first as a student of zoology and then as a holder of a doctorate in the ecology and behavior of the muntjac deer. And it was during his time in Oxford that he first began to realize that there was something seriously limited about science, wonderful though it was. For his doctorate he had to spend many years studying muntjac deer in their natural woodland habitat. He methodically collected data about their movements, food habits and social behavior.

Day and night he gathered the numbers out of his woodland study site much like a machine, recording them in his notebook for analysis later in the university's computers. He became a detached observer, remote as if looking down from on high. The inspiration that had taken him into science in the first place was drying up.

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15 Comments / User Reviews

  1. johnBas5

    Gaia is not a real thing.
    People need environment to survive, we are part of the food chain.

  2. Jacek Walker

    A step into the right direction but a lot more needes to be understood yet. Or rather individually experienced.

    For a better understanding read E. Tolle "A New Earth".

    Google : E Tolle A New Earth free pdf

  3. Luyang Han

    Totally rubbish. Such kind of "understanding" will lead man to no where.

    1. DarkSpirit

      That kind of thinking has been the foundation of Eastern sciences for thousands of years until western colonialism came and dominated the world scene. The ancient Chinese used to believe in harmony with nature through yin and yang, but the later generations of Asians only believe in building more industries and anything that has to do with nature is regarded as primitive.

      Their emphasis now is to control and dominate over nature for riches and power which is why they are one of the worst polluters in the world today. This is what western science teaches them. Why seek to harmonize with nature when you can simply rule over them? If you don't see yourself as also a part of nature, through reductionism, then you might as well bend it to your will.

      These are also the people who build large concrete-jungle cities to demonstrate the power of their science and engineering over their natural environments. They look around themselves and there is hardly any sign of nature, there is just the triumphant trophies of science and technology in the form of skyscrapers, billboards, and the ever-present smog.

    2. James Thomas

      Luyang, it's a bit disturbing that you proudly announce to the world that a more holistic relationship with our earth and nature (which we depend for our own existence) will not in any way benefit us.

      Perhaps, you may eventually discover that a dogmatic, know-it-all, black and white world view, will not serve you well (The Westboro Baptist Church might embrace your attitude and welcome you in, but few others).

      I could be wrong (I often am) but that's my feelings.

  4. Victor Postnikov

    A great documentary. Thank you, Stephan. Proud to have seen you and other teachers at Schumacher College.

  5. maddog3

    would you scientists please stop tinkering around with things you only partially understand. What makes you think that science has an answer when you admit science caused the problem in the first place? When the earth is destroyed there wont be anyone left to say maybe we should leave it alone and learn some humility.

    1. Nick Dimmer

      science has greatly improved the lives of millions upon millions of people, and easy to point the blame in any one direction. I myself am more of Transcendentalist is a little dated but it works for me an my beliefs. The problem is greed more so than the median in which it is used through. I realize you yourself probably wont see or read this but hopefully it will reach others, in such away.

  6. tariqxl

    Gaia was a titan the British deified their land. This so-called documentary mentions the word science countless times and generally refutes most taught sciences yet features no scientific explanations other than laws of thermodynamics perverted to suit their views. We could consider the earth as a 'living' system if we redefine 'living', its merely a definition. Its all a mechanical system however and would be like saying a car is a living thing. The car is integrated in society its matter and made from our surroundings holistically viewing it doesn't breathe life into it. There was some good arguments about needing a new economy and approach to education but god damn was this crud.

    1. DarkSpirit

      Then we really need a better definition of what constitutes a living system. How many "living systems" have we encountered other than those on earth?

    2. tariqxl


    3. DarkSpirit

      My point is there are still many aspects of nature that we take for granted simply because it agrees with our traditional view.of nature.

      One form of Gaia Hypothesis maintains that all life forms on Earth are part of a single living organism called Gaia. But the Earth doesn't reproduce, or does it?

      When our science and technology has allowed us to travel to another planet, like Mars, and we begin to terraform it to be like Earth, would that be Earth reproducing itself? Are we just pursuing what we want, or are our needs and intentions as a species just an extension of Gaia's?

    4. tariqxl

      Sort of a good point but! Big But, That's a relative view. Some may share, some may not. Granted the highway and sewerage systems seem like we're the DNA going to work building this greater system. But also people have likened our highways to arteries, when there's a major crash its not considered an aneurism or a haemorrhage and the world doesn't die. Perhaps you can consider humanity a singular organism but not Earth. Going with the same logic I can't agree with the Earth reproducing. The target planet was always there, in that respect Earth merely transmitted a parasite or a virus or a cancer. We will commence disassembling the resources and converting them into it into more of us. Taking everything and giving nothing back. Damn, so ok perhaps the planet is a singular life that we as a collective whole infest. Though the Planet itself does not fight for its survival when facing another celestial body. It's like the forementioned car. Its a mechanical system, some planets are 'dead' then so are some cars. The reason why this is so subjective is because it difficult to pertain something to something it is not. Or trying to see attributes that are really there other than in a metaphorical sense. Example would we be parasitic by going to Mars and giving it life, no. Are we if we went to a 'living' planet Yes as the planet would gain nothing. We're a cancer to this planet because the planet made us and now we're killing it. Another planet we're a parasite, though to the natural environment of either planet we're a virus. No, no, no. We're human beings and this is a planet simples.

  7. Icepick

    Thoroughly enjoyed it. Except for the carbon cycle part. I think he could have chosen a better example.

  8. ~Oliver B Koslik Esq

    Wonderful TDF