Creator of Gaia hypothesis James Lovelock dies on day of 103rd birthday

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The creator of the Gaia hypothesis, James Lovelock, has died on the day of his 103rd birthday.

The leading climate scientist formulated his theory during the 1960s that the earth has kept itself in balance from the start.

His family said in a statement: "Our beloved James Lovelock died yesterday in his home surrounded by his family on his 103rd birthday.

"To the world he was best known as a scientific pioneer, climate prophet and conceiver of the Gaia theory.

"To us he was a loving husband and wonderful father with a boundless sense of curiosity, a mischievous sense of humour and a passion for nature.

"Up until six months ago he was still able to walk along the coast near his home in Dorset and take part in interviews, but his health deteriorated after a bad fall earlier this year.

"He passed away at 9.55pm of complications related to the fall. The funeral will be private. There will be a public memorial service later. The family requests privacy at this time."

After developing an electron capture detector, Lovelock was the first scientist to detect the widespread presence of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) in the atmosphere.

It was this work in the late 1960s that led to the first published paper that suggested a link between stratospheric CFCs and damage to the ozone layer in 1974.

Chlorofluorocarbons were widely used as refrigerants and in aerosols and solvents.

Lovelock created and developed many scientific instruments during his life.

Many of these were used by NASA in its planetary exploration program.

And it was while working as a consultant for NASA that he developed the Gaia hypothesis.

Also known as the Gaia theory, it suggests that all living organisms interact with each other and their surroundings to form a self-regulating system.

In 2004 he caused a media storm when he broke with many environmentalists by saying "only nuclear power can now halt global warming".

And in a 2005 interview with the New York Times: "I am a Green, and I entreat my friends in the movement to drop their wrongheaded objection to nuclear energy."

He is survived by his wife, Sandra, his daughters Christine and Jane and his sons Andrew and John.

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