James Lovelock
James Lovelock Wikimedia Commons

Environmental guru Dr James Lovelock has said that worsening climate change will force fundamental changes in the way we live, with people clustering together "like insects" in vast super-cities.

Lovelock, who developed the Gaia theory of natural harmony with the Earth as a self-regulating organism, has based his new model on the way insects such as termites have evolved. Termites live in their millions in nest towers and have evolved a crude air-conditioning to make it possible.

He cited Singapore as an example of a place where residents have found a way to get on together despite the fact the country is 12C hotter than the global average.

At the Oxford Literary Festival to promote his next book, A Rough Ride to the Future, Lovelock said: "It's not surprising that insects have found that the best way of living is to live in nests.

"Termites in Australia have nests with huge air-conditioning towers on top of them to keep the internal climate just right.

In the UK, the cultural dream of having a "home in the countryside with a nice big garden" needed to be abandoned because it was no longer realistic or sustainable, he added.

The answer to global warming was not "sustainable development" but "sustainable retreat".