By Sean Hurley
I advocate for fundamental social change.
I advocate for fundamental social change because I want our species to have a future. Even in the face of insurmountable evidence to the contrary, I tell myself that as humans we can change and create better outcomes for our children.
I had the idea for this post over a week ago, and it was going to be a very different article. I had intended to write about all the reasons I have for wanting to see our species change direction. To briefly summarize what I have looked into and explain how they relate to each other. For me climate change has been a part of that picture, but it was not alone, it was not the only reason to change. It still isn’t.
That was over a week ago now.
Since then I have taken in some material produced by Guy R. McPherson, professor emeritus of natural resources and ecology and evolutionary biology. Some of you may be aware of his work, others may not. He has what some people, well, probably most people, would call an extremely pessimistic view of the future for our species. I created a short video in 2013 out of an interview he did, in six minutes it gives you an overview of his position.
Basically, Guy expresses that we are doomed to extinction in the relatively near-term. I came across an interview he did in New Zealand the other day in which he has revised his expectations. Guy is now saying that there will not be humans on the planet in ten years. A decade!
How do you react to that when you hear it or read it? Of course the initial response by many, probably the vast majority, will be to reject it or dismiss it. A very good friend of mine after seeing the interview, a friend who I most deeply respect, expressed that it was one man’s opinion. To be sure it is, and of course hearing what Guy has to say is difficult at best.
I struggled with it. I am still struggling with it. I have been writing with Social Rebirth for a few years now. Long enough that we have had an initial release of the site, then changed tack and produced material on three different sites and finally came back and relaunched Social Rebirth again. That of course has made our content look like it has only been written in the past 2 years, when actually much of it was written previously and went through a re-edit to be posted after the relaunch.
Back in 2012 when Stuart Dobson pitched the idea of starting a website to Jules Elbeshausen and myself I decided that I would try to do my best to always address causality in my content. I have never felt like I was a great writer by any stretch of the imagination but, thanks to Stuart and Jules I think I have improved and come to really enjoy putting articles together. From the outset I have had a plan with my writing to try and produce articles that would work in conjunction with each other. I wanted them to not only be stand alone pieces but to also support each other, which recently culminated in Stuart and I selecting a range of our articles and putting them together into our first book From the Ashes of Capitalism.
I have, since starting the blog, been interested in showing the connection between our economic system, climate change, social disparity and ecological decline. I think that is an important picture for us all to be able to see, which is why I am struggling with the most recent Guy R. McPherson interview.
I have been researching what he is talking about for a few years now, and writing about aspects of it, so how did I not see the timeline? Maybe it is because I have been writing and reading about things in isolation from each other, which is exactly what I did not want to do. Even after collating the articles into the book, knowing things were not great, I did not allow myself to appreciate just how bad they were. Maybe subconsciously I did not want to. Who really wants to see the big picture when it is a picture of almost certain death? I just had to stop and laugh to myself. You see I am still doing it, where Guy points out species extinction is unavoidable in the near-term I want to add the word ‘almost’.
Perhaps I am optimistic to a fault; I want to hold onto the idea that as a species we still have hope, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The most troubling thing about what Guy is saying is that the evidence to support those claims is not hidden away. It is all around us, multiple agencies have been publishing the information for a long time. The thing is they have been published in isolation. We read articles about co2, species extinction, melting ice, ocean acidification, global dimming etc, but we don’t see them all wrapped up together at the same time.
This is what Guy has spent his time doing, he put the pieces together. It is extremely emotional to see, and it is difficult if not impossible to not have an emotional response to being told we are all going to die inside ten years. There are bound to be a range of responses to what he presents, people laughing at him, dismissing him, getting angry, depressed, we are humans after all and will have that range of responses. Which is why I find myself struggling with it, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I am finding myself constantly needing to remind myself to not be dismissive of what he is saying, to not look for people to blame out of anger, to not get upset about it because maybe it is not correct, to not just give up.
I know climate change is happening, I think the clear majority of people have come to accept that reality. I also accept that although our climate has changed in the past, and will continue to change into the future, the current change we are experiencing is human induced, or ‘anthropogenic’. So in the end I come to the conclusion that I need to try and be objective. I need to look at the information available and see where it leads. Do we still have time to change and avert disaster for our species and the many others we share this planet with? I hope so.
The one thing I think I can be certain of is that if we don’t do something serious now then the outcome will not be one we will want to talk about: our own deaths. If you want to take in the talk by Guy about climate change and our future it is in the video below. I don’t know if I want to recommend it. I will say this, if you are going to watch it try and remain objective. Try to catch yourself if/when you start to have an emotional response. I am going to try and prepare a series of work that will look at the current state of our planetary environment and explain what I find. I am also going to remain optimistic, because I feel we are a species with great potential. We will act or we will die.
You can review the work of Guy at his website, I encourage you to check his source.
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