James Lovelock is the originator of Gaia theory, a hypothesis he formulated in the 1960s as a consequence of his work for NASA on methods of detecting life on Mars, which proposes that Earth’s physical and biological processes are inextricably bound to form a self-regulating system – but not one that can indefinitely support human life. His latest book, The Vanishing Face of Gaia updates and reiterates the urgency of his original theory – proposing that climate change will result in inevitable global catastrophe, and that the human race should prepare for the worst. He is also the inventor of the electron capture detector (which made possible the detection of CFCs and other atmospheric nano-pollutants) and of the microwave oven.
John Gray has written several influential books on political theory and is perhaps best known for Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, a critique of humanism; asserting that humanist belief in progress is derived from an erroneous Christian notion of humans as morally autonomous beings categorically different from all other animals. Gray sees volition, and hence morality, as an illusion, and portrays humanity as a ravenous species engaged in wiping out other forms of life. He writes that ‘humans […] cannot destroy the Earth, but they can easily wreck the environment that sustains them.’
Video of the conversation can be watched here.