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Model of the Earth in which its living and nonliving parts are viewed as a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism. Developed c. 1972 largely by British chemist James E. Lovelock and U.S. biologist Lynn Margulis, the Gaia hypothesis is named for the Greek Earth goddess. It postulates that all living things have a regulatory effect on the Earth's environment that promotes life overall; the Earth is homeostatic in support of life-sustaining conditions. The theory is highly controversial.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Gaia hypothesis, visit Britannica.com.
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