Archive for November, 2010

Beyond Gaia….the Medea Hypothesis

November 27, 2010

Just in case you were afraid to become an environmentalist out of fear of becoming an earth-worshiping pagan — just turning off one light not in use might do a presto-chango on a person, according to the anti-environmentalists’ common wisdom…..

Gaia is now passé.  It was Medea all along — the one who killed her children in rage when Jason left her… a La Llorona figure… Mary Hamilton. 

See :

Now there is a radically different theory that is gaining adherents, ominously named the Medea hypothesis. The paleontologist Professor Peter Ward is an expert in the great extinctions that have happened in the earth’s past, and he believes there is a common thread between them. With the exception of the meteor strike that happened 65 million years ago, every extinction was caused by living creatures becoming incredibly successful – and then destroying their own habitats. So, for example, 2.3 billion years ago, plant life spread incredibly rapidly, and as it went it inhaled huge amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This then caused a rapid plunge in temperature that froze the planet and triggered a mass extinction.  

Ward believes nature isn’t a nurturing mother like Gaia. No: it is Medea, the figure from Greek mythology who murdered her own children. In this theory, life doesn’t preserve itself. It serially destroys itself. It is a looping doomsday machine. This theory adds a postscript to Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest. There is survival of the fittest, until the fittest trash their own habitat, and do not survive at all.  

But the plants 2.3 billion years ago weren’t smart enough to figure out what they were doing. We are. We can see that if we release enough warming gases we will trigger an irreversible change in the climate and make our own survival much harder. Ward argues that it is not inevitable we will destroy ourselves – because human beings are the first and only species that can consciously develop a Gaian approach. Just as Richard Dawkins famously said we are the first species to be able to rebel against our selfish genes and choose to be kind, we are the first species that can rebel against the Medean rhythm of life. We can choose to preserve the habitat on which we depend. We can choose life.

We can choose life.  We can.  We can resist the Medea impluse in us & replace her with Jesus on our inner altar.  We can.  Please don’t be afraid to choose life.