The venerable centenarian, James Lovelock, inspired an almost cultish following with his Gaia Theory. He proposed that organic life interacted with the inorganic Earth causing Earth itself to mimic organic life. Part of that theory held that humans were akin to microbes - just fine in small numbers but a plague when their impact grew too great. At that point the Earth would develop a fever, kill off most of the microbes, us, and get back on with business more or less as normal.
Lovelock's Gaia Theory was viewed with great skepticism when it was unveiled in the 70s. As climate impacts began to arrive and the Earth entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, the doubters became converts.
There was a blip. In 2012, Lovelock, perhaps finding his doomsday predictions unbearable, retreated and said he was being alarmist. Humanity would not be all but wiped out in the 21st century. Don't worry, be happy."The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time … it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising - carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that …
"The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened …
"The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now."
James Lovelock has largely moved on from climate catastrophe. He recently wrote a book about artificial intelligence and robotics.
His new book Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence proposes that the 300,000-year Anthropocene era of Earth’s human domination is ending. Novacene is a new age where our species is doomed to a worse fate than clinging on for dear life at the north pole as previously imagined. Instead we will become lackeys of cyborgs able to think 10,000 times faster than humans. We will be kept on to ensure there are habitable temperatures for these superior intelligences.