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“La Terre Habitable, ou l’épopée de la zone critique” published by Éditions de la Découverte

Jérôme Gaillardet, professor at the IPGP, has published "La Terre habitable - ou l'épopée de la zone critique" (The habitable Earth - or the epic of the critical zone) with Éditions de La Découverte. A geochemist and member of the Institut Universitaire de France, Jérôme Gaillardet conducts research into biogeochemical cycles and the chemical composition of rivers. He co-coordinates the national research infrastructure OZCAR (Observatoires de la Zone Critique, Applications et Recherche) and is a member of the Centre des Politiques de la Terre (Université Paris Cité / SciencesPo /IPGP).

“La Terre Habitable, ou l’épopée de la zone critique” published by Éditions de la Découverte

Publication date: 12/10/2023

General public, Institute Life, Press

“While the humanities and social sciences, notably Bruno Latour, have devoted considerable attention to the subject of planetary habitability, the Earth sciences have often remained discreet on this subject, confined to the academic arena. For the first time, an eminent geochemist, bringing together experimental science and philosophy, offers a sensitive and accessible exploration of the part of the planet that is home to life.

We have never talked so much about the Earth. Not a day goes by when we are not reminded of it, and the feeling grows that we are losing it. But do we really know the Earth? How can we connect with it in a respectful and sustainable way?
This book shows that living beings, and humans in particular, do not inhabit the Earth in the sense of the globe, but rather a tiny part of it. A discontinuous zone between the sky and the rocks, created by the confrontation between the energy of the sun that activates the water cycle and the telluric energy that creates the relief. It is neither the traditional soil, nor ecosystems, nor groundwater or rivers; it is everything at once. Altered, woven, this veil is a critical zone, to be discovered in order to take care of it and live in it better. This new Earth is also turning. It folds and unfolds in cycles and temporalities, as it undergoes chemical, physical and biological transformations.

From the Congo River to the Amazon, from the Alps to the Himalayas, from Puerto Rico to Lorient, from La Réunion to Guadeloupe, we follow the scientists who are examining the critical zone. They are deciphering the water cycle, tracking the flow of carbon or metals, chemical transformations that take place over a second or a million years… Along climatic or geological gradients, they are creating long-term observatories, making mountains and forests, streams and groundwater talk to each other. Together, they are inventing an undisciplined science of the terrestrial, an essential step in a new politics of the Earth. Vertiginous.”

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