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The importance and influence of James Lovelock in geography - Essay Example

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James Lovelock represents a new breed of scientists who are working to change the way that science in general and geography in particular is perceived. Lovelock operates independently as a scientist, an environmentalist and as a futurologist…
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Download file to see previous pages James Lovelock represents a new breed of scientists who are working to change the way that science in general and geography in particular is perceived. Lovelock operates independently as a scientist, an environmentalist and as a futurologist. Though Lovelock has postulated numerous ideas over time but he is most famously recognised for his Gaia hypothesis. This hypothesis postulates that the biosphere surrounding the Earth regulates itself independently and possesses the capacity to keep the planet’s environment in a healthy state. This regulation is carried out in the biosphere using several chemical and physical processes that tend to regulate the balance of nature repeatedly. However, Lovelock’s work has been met with scepticism in some circles around the world and there have been attempts at postulating ideas that stand in opposition to Lovelock’s ideas. 2. Life History James Lovelock was born to working class parents in Letchworth Garden City located in Hertfordshire, England. His parents had an overbearing stress for education given their own backgrounds as illiterate and semi-literate workers in manufacturing establishments. After the birth of Lovelock the family migrated to London where he developed a certain distaste for authority given his treatment at Strand School (Lovelock, 2001). After completing school Lovelock worked for a photography firm during the day and took evening classes at Birkbeck College. Following this he enrolled at Manchester University for a chemistry programme and received his degree in 1941. After a chemistry degree Lovelock took up medicine and received his Ph.D. in 1948 from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Lovelock’s education did not end here, instead, he travelled over to the United States in order to pursue a degree in medicine. After being awarded the prestigious Rockefeller Travelling Fellowship in Medicine in 1954, Lovelock chose to spend the period first at Harvard University and then at Yale University. This was followed by a D.Sc. degree in biophysics from London University in 1959 after which he joined the National Institute in London. However, Lovelock resigned only two years later in 1961 and took up teaching as a full time profession at Baylor University College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. While he was at Baylor, Lovelock worked in collaboration with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Lunar and Planetary Research. Three years later in 1964 Lovelock resigned his academic position in order to pursue independent scientific practice. Lovelock has contributions to the fields of geo-physiology and medical research as well as numerous investigative inventions to his name such as gas chromatography, electron capture detector, palladium trans-modulator and a tracer method for mass transport measurements in air and water masses (Ecolo, 2010). This paper will attempt to discuss the contributions of James Lovelock to science in general and to geography in particular. 3. Scientific Contributions 3.1. Electron Capture Detector and CFCs The electron capture detector is one of Lovelock’s most esteemed inventions. This device has enabled scientists to investigate the phenomenon of ozone depletion particularly the role played by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Lovelock was the first scientist to find that CFCs were pervasively present in the stratosphere although they were not a natural constituent (Lovelock, 1971). In an effort to quantify his findings Lovelock set out to measure the concentration levels of CFCs in the atmosphere on two different self funded expeditions. The first expedition took Lovelock to ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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