Dear Sir James Lovelock,
I recently learned about your Gaia theory in which you state that life forms are co-evolved with the environment to regulate the conditions of life on Earth. It looks like there is a direct implementation of your theory that can be used to prevent floods and droughts. Based on observations from the history of human actions and Nature’s reactions to these actions, I have derived simple rules that can be used to control local weather.
It turns out the descriptions of why and how rain and wind occur in the textbooks are not correct. As it was pointed in one of the recent articles of the Science magazine¹: “Many meteorology textbooks still teach a caricature of the water cycle, with ocean evaporation responsible for most of the atmospheric moisture that condenses in clouds and falls as rain.” This article states that Russian theoreticians came up with a new theory describing the processes of rain and wind. According to them, a so-called biotic pump composed of forests is responsible for precipitation. They claim that there is no precipitation if there are no forests. However, their theory doesn’t explain anomalous precipitations occurring sometimes in deserts and other places without forests.
Weather during wars in pre-industrial age, are described to be “rainy” and “cold”.²¨¹⁰ Since ancient times people have been observing rainfall after major battles. Two millennia ago, Plutarch said “‘it is observed indeed that extraordinary rains generally fall after great battles”.¹¹ Then, in 1800s and 1900s people in Europe also reported unusual wet weather after wars.⁸’¹² But these people were criticized by scientists at the time, and the phenomenon was forgotten since then.
We don’t know what is the mechanism of the Plutarch’s precipitation phenomenon, but time and time again we observe this pattern in our history. Probably it could have been evolved to deal with climate change in the past. Based on historical and modern data, I see the following rules of thumb:
1) An anomalous precipitation seems to take place exactly in three weeks after a large-scale movement of one type of animal, hoofed ones, called ungulates (horse, camel, cattle, sheep, saiga, deer, elephant etc.). The hypothesis is based on the observations from the history of events of large-scale movement like:
- cavalries during large-scale military deployment
- agriculture reforms and regulations dealing with livestock movement
- big agriculture shows of livestock, like the Great Yorkshire Show in UK
- feral horse and camel culling programs in the USA and Australia.
- natural migration of ungulates like wildebeest in Africa, saiga in Eurasia.
- hunting seasons
2) droughts occur when there is no movement of ungulates. It seems that it takes place in the cases of minimal ungulate movements like:
- hunting restrictions
- absence of predators
- livestock movement restrictions
3) Large-scale movements of ungulates seem to bring not only anomalous rainfall, but also the coldest years. Anomalous cold winters were observed during:
- wars in autumn and winter
- cattle industry boom in USA and ex-USSR
- saiga aerial counts in Kazakhstan in autumn.
- the Little Ice Age coincides with disturbance of 30–60 mln bison ecosystem by Europeans due to their arrival to North America
The three-week delay between the onset of ungulate movement and subsequent precipitation coincides with inoculation time of fungi distributed by hoofs and in manure of ungulates, but it is not clear how it is related to atmospheric processes of thunderstorms apart from spores seeding the rain droplets.
Thus, just to give an idea, here are some examples of floods and droughts and their attributions. Big floods in the UK in 2001 and 2007 coincided with the acceptance of the Animal Welfare Regulation Act of 2000 and 2007 which obliged farmers to have enough places for the livestock to move. Interestingly, it also coincides with Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreaks. It seems Nature “doesn’t like ‘’ when it gets too wet, and it tries to decrease the ungulate movement with the virus of FMD. In contrast to floods, droughts take place when there is no ungulate movement. Thus, the drought in the UK in 1976 coincided with cancellation of subsidy for some farmers.
There are forces that have been actively decreasing temperatures in different places on Earth despite the high concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, but nobody knows what the origin of these forces is. What we know is it coincides with large-scale movements of ungulates, the latter preceding corresponding weather events. To explain the occurrence of unusually low temperatures in the past, scientists usually look for active volcanoes in that time, if there is none, these low temperatures remain a mystery. Thus, nobody couldn’t explain why the Little Ice Age took place in medieval times, why it was cold in the US in the 1970s when scientists thought that they were having global cooling¹³, why Texas suffered an unusually cold winter in 2020 etc.
We know there are some events taking place that we gave fancy names like Polar Vortex, but it doesn’t explain the origin of the events. The same is true with unusual rainfalls, we observe a phenomenon that we call La Nina, but its origin remains unknown. It sounds ridiculous to make a liaison between the weather events with ungulate movements but there are many things invisible to us. I strongly believe if we are more open and humbler, we can find out the processes behind these curious phenomena. Most probably it will take a long time to do the research to make sense of this quirk of Nature, meanwhile we could just use it to stop floods and droughts.
Since I am not a climate scientist nor atmosphere scientist, I am not credible enough to “promote” the idea that floods and droughts can be prevented by simulating natural ungulate migration. Moreover, natural scientists say this idea is nonsense despite the clear evidence in the anomalous precipitation and drought in Australia when we take into account corresponding ungulate cullings. The following graph shows clearly anomalous precipitation in Australia taking place after large-scale movement of ungulates due to their culling.
It also shows the dry years when there is no ungulate movement because there are no predators of feral horses and camels in Australia. So, the precipitation occurs only when humans decide to do the job of the predators which is to chase ungulates.
Luckily, your Gaia theory supports the idea that organisms coevolved to bring the best conditions to live on Earth. But as I understood, the timescales in your theory are in the order of millennia and beyond. Whereas the empirical rules I provide here seem to work in three week in the case of triggering of precipitation and one year or so to decrease the local temperature. Nevertheless, I strongly believe the above said rules are a direct manifestation of your theory.
What we need is to test the idea officially, so we can disseminate the results so people can use it everywhere to bring fresh water and stop floods. A field experiment with a maximum of 1000 horses in arid areas could show precipitation in three weeks. Why 1000 horses? We need a controllable unit, so cattle are not an option whereas horsemen with horses could be the best choice. Also, I have noticed that every time when the number of ungulates exceeds 2000, there is heavy precipitation leading to floods.
Please forgive me for not writing to you directly as I couldn’t find your email. I hope you find this letter and you will participate in the organization of the test and more.
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