Both refer to the 3rd planet from the sun, the planet where we live. Earth, the word more generally used, also means the solid part of the planet’s surface. On the other hand, Gaia includes not only the land surface but also water, atmosphere, organisms and ecosystems they make. This is known as “Gaia Theory”.
“Gaia Theory” was first proposed by Dr. James Lovelock, a British scientist, in 1970s. This theory regards that the organic and inorganic components of the earth interact one another as if they were a single living, self-regulating system.
The earth now receives 25% more energy from the sun than 3.8 billion years ago when life began on the earth. The planet reacted as a single living system and maintained temperatures at levels suitable for life. In this way, Gaia has automatically controlled temperature, atmosphere, ocean salinity, and other factors, that maintain its own balance.
Mankind has exploited resources on the earth since Industrial Revolution. We drastically increased the population, cultivate vast amount of land, pollute air and water, generate waste, …. And now, increased amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are causing global warming and climate change. Human activities now have significant impact on Gaia’s self-regulating system. It is crisis for us, humanity, not for Gaia as a whole. Gaia will continue to live without human being if it is the way to maintain the system.
Gaia Initiative uses “Gaia” as part of its name in order to remind people that we are part of the living system and that it is time for us to take back the gratitude toward Gaia.