~Meniscus Archives~

Summer 2004
Issue #4

May - August 2004

Visual Art and Spiritual Evolution
Andy Gmür
Biological evolution has advanced to the point that a 'spiritual evolution' is taking place. This natural process is happening, no matter if we are aware of it or not.

The Dehydration Epidemic
Jaime Larese
Our first step to improving a myriad of health problems is understanding dehydration and how much water we need to be drinking daily to maintain our fragile health.

What's Endangering Our Earth?
Jeff Hernandez
The everyday items that are meant to facilitate our lives, in fact may be harming us more than we bargained for. Organic chemicals are extremely cheap to produce and are very effective in their job functions.

Looking Forward to Clean Energy
Jon Heinrich
Fortunately, solutions exist and if we are able to raise awareness and convince our policy makers to consider it a priority, we can all look forward to a bright, energy-rich future instead of one marked by environmental, political, and social disaster.
Aaron Ades
You don't need to save for a rainy day if you create a system that is in harmony with the needs of the human animal. Create what you need and eliminate the reliance on things you cannot create.
Ten Things You Can Do to Help Your Earth
Chrystie Hopkins
Whether you live in New York City or Big Fork, Montana, everyday decisions that you make can impact the environment. The revolution starts at home. Here are ten things that you can do to help save YOUR world.
Derek Gumuchian
We are all one. In this article we explore the idea of the Earth as an entire entitiy and as our mother.
The Fabulous Sylvan Sisters
Dan Berthiaume
An hour later, Donna was lazily reclining in the passenger seat of Melinda's cherry red Volkswagen New Beetle, consuming a brunch consisting of a can of Diet Pepsi and a low-tar cigarette...
è bella Designs in Peru
Michael Weintrob
Photographer Michael Weintrob travels to Peru with è bella Designs, to capture how è bella has helped to revive the art of weaving and the Peruvuian economy.
Rough Around the Edges
Jonathan Alsop

Technically, first thing in the morning is the very best time to taste wine since your palate is fresh and unviolated. But I don't do it: the sight of daddy in his bathrobe on a Sunday morning slogging down a half-dozen bottles of wine could stay with a child.

Show Review:
Pete Pidgeon & Arcoda—Six Years of friends, funk and crack horns.
Jon Heinrich
Pete Pidgeon & Arcoda celebrate six years as a band by playing at Boston's Harpers Ferry. Opening up for Arcoda was Color and Talea and Caveman. 4/4/04.

CD Reviews:

Empty Food
Kerry Rumore
Fish Pond &
The Little Prince Discovers a Rose
Katie Molnar

Selections by Brian Gagné:

  • [It Fails to Pass]
  • Fever/Lever
  • Grief
  • Smallness annihilated in the scope of puzzlement
  • Untitled A

Spring Issue Launch
Club Europa,
Feb. 19, 2004

State of the Art,
Oct. 23, 2003

Portland, Maine
Aug. 30, 2003

Premier Launch,
Zeitgeist Gallery,
Aug. 14, 2003


On Gaia…

Gaia is the
Greek personification
of mother Earth.

Derek Gumuchian
Published 5/15/04

There exists now a theory that purports Earth’s life as its means of self-regulation. It is called the Gaia hypothesis, and it was purveyed first by a man named James Lovelock in the early 1970’s. The main idea is that all organic and inorganic components of the earth’s biosphere regulate its temperature, chemical makeup, nutrient cycling, and atmospheric pressure—everything essential to life’s continued existence. It claims the earth as being one organism, and all the interactions of all the organic and inorganic elements of the biosphere are designed to maintain a balance of the conditions that best support life.

Life sustains the atmospheric and surface environment, thus sustaining itself.

And it has been for about 3 billion years! The single largest environmental pollution event in the history of the earth occurred approximately 2 billion years ago when a partnership of two particular kinds of bacteria was forged. Environmentally, oxygen was present in inorganic forms as the product of the many reactions taking place on the incredibly volatile young planet. The aforementioned chimerical symbionts used oxygen to produce cellular energy through a series of reactions at a rate eighteen times faster than their contemporaries. This, in turn, encouraged the oxygen-producers to succeed, as the waste from one set of reactions became the food for another and so on. Many of the then-present species/types of bacteria evolved out.

So began the environmental shift from virtually anoxic to significantly oxygenated, and the literal growth of the inhabitants of the planet; two bacterial cells together are bigger than one alone. Countless interactions had been attempted and failed to that point, but this particular relationship stuck. Call it pollution, as it resulted in a total shift of environmental makeup. Call it whatever you want, but we can obviously see that an oxygenated environment (that Gaia has sustained since its creation) makes the most evolutionary sense for us here on the planet. There are 2 billion years of evidence that support this idea.

To further simplify, we can use a fantastic model created by Lovelock and his colleagues to illustrate a planet’s Gaian regulation of only one variable, temperature. Imagine a planet that is covered in nothing but black and white daisies. The black ones absorb heat and warm the surface of this Daisyworld whereas the white ones reflect heat and lower the surface temperature. The white plants grow better at higher temperatures, say, 20 degrees Celsius, where the black ones grow best at 5-10 degrees Celsius. Neither can grow beyond 40 degrees Celsius. Daisyworld is located as far from its sun as is the Earth, and like our sun, it increases its luminosity and hence temperature over time.

Before any growth of daisies, the temperature is close to 5 degrees Celsius, a condition that favors the black daisies. As they grow and cover vast areas of the planet’s surface, the surface temperature of those areas increase. Eventually, the conditions of warmed areas of planetary surface favor the white daisies, which start to grow as well. The two species would eventually find a balance where they could be equally successful over a range of solar luminosity, regulating the temperature of the surface of the planet, but maintaining a set of conditions that was favorable to their continued existence. This is a terribly oversimplified illustration of Gaian theory, but it does a good job expressing it.

The oxygen concentration of our atmosphere has changed very little over the last 2 billion years, which coincides with the fossil record to show when life proliferated on our planet. Currently our planet’s atmosphere is made up of 21 percent oxygen gas. If it were to increase to 25 percent, huge fires would ignite with even the smallest flame. If it were to decrease to 13 percent fires would not start at all. Three billion years ago, our sun was 30 percent less bright. Though the conditions in our little corner of space have changed significantly over the last 2 billion years, the chemical makeup of earth’s atmosphere has not. There is a huge amount of support of the Gaia hypothesis from high-level scientists the world over, and though its scope is, in my opinion, beyond being proven, I find it to be an incredibly refreshing take on the nature of things on our beloved planet.

The idea that the planet acts in its own best interest can and should lend perspective to our place here. Gaia includes us all; it does not bear any of the same prejudices that we do. Gaia will find a way to regulate itself, with many forms of wonderful life. What the hypothesis does, philosophically speaking, is give meaning to every breeze and blade of grass, where most current dogma places importance on faith and things which cannot be grasped and therefore questioned. I, think it is time for us collectively to stop placing our very real faith in things intangible, and instead look at what actual beauty does surround and, yes, include us all. Take a nice deep breath and thank Gaia you’re alive.

Derek Gumuchian


1. Margulis, Lynn, and Olendzenski, Lorraine, editors. Environmental Evolution. Effects of the Origin and Evolution of Life on Planet Earth. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1992, pp. 295-324.

2. Margulis, Lynn, and Sagan Dorian. What is Life? New York, NY: Simon and Scheuster, 1995, pp. 90-115.


Meniscus Magazine © 2004. All material is property of respective artists.