Cherish the beauty of engines like this Corvette ZR1 V8. You may not be able to afford to run it for much longer.

James Lovelock: Petrolhead Icon?


Cherish the beauty of engines like this Corvette ZR1 V8. You may not be able to afford to run it for much longer.James Lovelock, the ninety one year old maverick environmental scientist is doing the media rounds this week with a series of lectures and media appearances.

It may be overstating the fact to say that the creator of the Gaia Hypothesis that shook up the world of environmental science in the late sixties and seventies is someone to whom the lovers of large engines and mechanical speed should bow down in reverence – but his oft-repeated urge for us to “enjoy life while we can” comes as scientifically legitimate succour to those of us who believe that the beauty of V8 engines should be cherished – as long as there are planes flying in the air and that the economic growth of developing countries like Brazil, India and China is driven by coal-fired furnaces.

Back when the first oil crisis of the early seventies had yet to rear its economy-shattering head, this was the guy who posited for that the planet was a self-sustaining system deeply vulnerable to human feedback, but ultimately that it would be resilient in the face of human short-sightedness.

Lovelock put the cat amongst the green campaigning pigeons more recently by coming out in favour of nuclear energy – it being, he said, the only real hope of achieving mass power that doesn’t emit tonnes upon tonnes of greenhouse gasses.
He gilded the controversial lily by coming out with the idea that we should store all the nuclear waste from our zero-emission electricity deep in the middle of the Amazon rainforest – thereby creating a human no-go area for the next few hundred thousand years and ensuring the integrity of the planet’s supply of oxygen.

Whatever you believe in the increasingly hot debate about environment and resource, and to whichever branch of scientifically legitimised politics you choose to align yourself – the real worry remains for people who love powerful cars, is in this tragically foreshortened, politically tempestuous future that seems to await: will anyone but the super rich be able to afford to actually use them?

lovelock in his lab