James Lovelock, a favorite of environmentalists ever since he originated the "Gaia" theory that views the planet as a single organism, admits today that he may have overreacted a bit when it comes to climate change. In recent years, Lovelock hypothesized that billions of us would die within the century—and that the few survivors would live "in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable." But the 92-year-old scientist now says that, though "we were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now," in reality the world is not much warmer than it was 12 years ago.
"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"—he names his own as well as Al Gore's as examples—"because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened," he tells MSNBC. Even so, he acknowledges there's "no question" that carbon dioxide is increasing, and says we should still "do our best to cut back on fossil fuel burning." In a new book, he will posit that climate change is still occurring, just not as quickly as he once thought—and he insists he hasn't turned into "a denier." (Read more James Lovelock stories.)