Can We Give The World And Future Generations A Break?

apocalyptic and post apocalyptic fiction the road screenshot

In the end, we, all of us, have to ask ourselves whether we wish to have more of everything (manufactured goods, vacation homes, holidays in far away locations and so on) in the short term or do we want to stretch out our use of resources to give the Earth a break to heal and to try to help ensure that future generations can more easily survive. Do we want a little inconvenience now or the formation of a whole lot of it down the road? (Surely if our long-ago forebears on the African plains could learn to live within their daunting limits, we can manage a little personal discomfort or irritation so as to generally improve life on Earth for all.) Do we have a sufficient supply of self-control and compassion toward our unknown descendants to curb our boundless desire for ever more merchandise, petrol, electricity and offspring? Can we find some modicum of happiness within deliberately self-proscribed limits? Can we give the Earth and future generations of life, human and nonhuman, a break?

One of my friends asked me whether I had heard of Guy McPherson. I replied that, of course, I had.

Guy McPherson – Wikipedia

Guy R. McPherson (born 29 February 1960) is an American scientist, professor emeritus of natural resources and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. He is best known for promoting the idea of near term extinction (NTE), a term he coined about the possibility of human extinction as soon as 2030.

Nature Bats Last – Our days are numbered. Passionately pursue a life …

Guy McPherson. 6 hours ago. Guy McPherson. EoE at NBL … See MoreSee Less. Edge of Extinction: Living with Urgency – Nature Bats Last. Edge of Extinction: Living with Urgency January 29, 2018 Th


In relation to the views in the above commentary, I sent friends of mine the following short youtube video and asked some related questions.

Recommendation: Please watch the short video. Read my reflections in relation to it. Then see some of the replies that I received.

Guy McPherson with Edge of Extinction: Am I an Optimist? – YouTube

▶ 3:31

Jun 22, 2017 – Uploaded by Nature Bats Last Message from Afrizen: “In my journey through the “DABDA …

A lot of people who I know admire and respect Guy McPherson. So I wrote to a few friends:

1., So I’d like to know your personal thoughts on this short film of his. (His timeline seems too short to me.)

2., I would also like to know [your associate] Bill Rees’s ideas on our survivability. Does he think that we are soon slated for extinction? What sort of timeline does he give for the collapse relative to ecological overshoot, population overshoot, etc? Does he think that it will be global in scale? … What about all of the methane hydrates (in the earth and under the oceans) and sequestered carbon (i.e., in permafrost) that are being increasingly unleashed? Are they going to do in our atmosphere, along with other reasons for its demise? … What about the slowing of the ocean currents that oxygenate the air? … What about the demise of Amazon forest — the lungs of the planet? … So what does he think relative to these and other daunting problems? … As you are aware, we have already crossed some critical central thresholds (crucial tipping points) for planetary survival.

K. responded:

McPherson, as are most doomers, is too certain of the future, particularly Climate, which is an emergent, complex system. Neils Bohr and Yogi Berra had it right: “Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.”


While I’m a pessimist, I refuse to proclaim certainty about the future.  I have little hope of improving average human (p/cap) well-being no matter what actions are taken locally in select places. Whether it be India, Haiti, Africa, or??, all that is accomplished in my view is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

I’m not going to chase dreams which I see as impossible. If fewer die prematurely in locale A, then more will die elsewhere to counterbalance that. Why? Because the food chain is failing, waste sinks too, and toxification increases on average every day.

If more survive in locale A, then they’ll demand more food aid, medical aid, etc. That will draw from the global supply. Overshoot means that we are already beyond carrying capacity. Bill Rees has been a closet pessimist for decades. Since retiring, he now admits it publicly. I taught a 6 session short course on his lecture on why humanity is inherently unsustainable. If you want the notes from that, I’ll send them.

[Here is who Bill Rees is:
William E. Rees – Wikipedia

William Rees received his PhD degree in population ecology from the University of Toronto. He founded SCARP’s ‘”Environment and Resource Planning” concentration and from 1994 to 1999 served as director of the School. Rees’ book on ecological footprint analysis, Our Ecological Footprint (co-authored with then PhD …
Carbon footprint – Wikipedia

A carbon footprint is historically defined as the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an individual, event, organisation, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. … The concept name of the carbon footprint originates from ecological footprint, discussion,[5] which was developed by Rees and Wackernagel in the 1990s which estimates the number of “earths” that would theoretically be required if everyone on the planet consumed resources at the same level as the person calculating their ecological footprint. However, given that ecological footprints are a measure of failure, Anindita Mitra (CREA, Seattle) chose the more easily calculated “carbon footprint” to easily measure use of carbon, as an indicator of unsustainable energy use. In 2007, carbon footprint was used as a measure of carbon emissions to develop the energy plan for City of Lynnwood, Washington. Carbon footprints are much more specific than ecological footprints since they measure direct emissions of gases that cause climate change into the atmosphere. Carbon footprint is one of a family of footprint indicators, which also includes water footprint and land footprint. – S. D.]

E. responded:

I am not sure if you are asking a whole list of people for their reactions to the short video by Guy McPherson. It was quite a terrifying presentation, for sure. I do think about these issues all the time and ;my daughter] is particularly distressed by the traveling she has to do for work given climate change. We do our best to recycle everything, to minimize what we buy, to grow some of our own food in our back yard garden. We also heat with a heat pump and this past December put solar panels on our house. We would like to do more too. ;My other daughter] and her family are very into the permaculture movement and are also very conscious of environmental issues, but most of us feel that what we are doing individually is not enough. The small political action group I am part of is very engaged in the carbon pricing bills currently before the Massachusetts Congress but it is hard to know if any of the measures will pass. I don’t know what else to say. I hope the human species wakes up but I also hope we don’t all die by 2025. That would be devastating for sure.

S. responded:

Please allow me to add some thoughts as follow-up to the letter.  The way I see things each and every elder has both a responsibility as well as a duty to do whatever we can to speak out about what somehow could be real. If we choose to take this path, then we can securely hope for the best. I remain vigilant and hopeful that a sustainable way to the future will be found and taken

It is unadulterated fantasy and extraordinary hubris for the rich and powerful leaders among us to believe that they are “masters of the universe.” None of us can realistically lay claim to such status. Humans are wondrous and miraculous beings, but we are evolving creatures of Earth. In all our human-ness we have stumbled into a very serious predicament that appears to be of our own making. If we choose to own our marvelous creatureliness as well as our singular attributes as humans, there is no doubt that human beings can deliberately undo any knot that we have inadvertently tied.

Then we can take necessary steps collectively by responding ably to any human-induced and -driven existential threat to future human well being and environmental health. A first step: immediately provide universal, free, safe, easily accessible, voluntary male conception.

The ease with which patriarchal societies burden females alone with the whole task of restraining births is the greatest unfairness of my lifetime. Now here males must become equally engaged by acknowledging, addressing and overcoming the human population explosion. Historically, males have behaved in woefully inadequate, irresponsible ways when it comes to moving forward sustainably. Elder males and all self-proclaimed masters of the universe in my generation can claim responsibility for mortgaging the future of children everywhere and stealing their birthright.

With every good wish and abiding hope,

In my estimation, the fact is that 10 to 20 percent of people can and do choose to live reasonably. We can deliberately elect to limit our resource uses, our travel (except from necessity), the size of our homes, the number of children that we have and so on to be supportive of the world and life in the future. (Some, the financially poor, have no choice in the matter, anyway, to be delimited.)

If our curtailment patterns wreck the economy and financial system as they are currently set up to be, good. It is good because our current ways of supporting both areas of our social system are not sustainable in the long run. So we need a new paradigm and operational format in place since the alternative is not acceptable. Period!

The problem, as I see it, is that we have to convince the other 80 to 90 percent of people to also change ways. This is not easy as they are so acclimated to the current ways of life that they have. Their jobs are also dependent on the current system in place for many of them. Nonetheless, we have to try to do so.

Future life on planet Earth depends on this undertaking from us. So get cracking to educate others, please!

Sally Dugman is a writer from MA, USA.


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