I was a climate-change agnostic when I went to see Guy McPherson at the 100th Monkey. I thought Earth might be more subtle and complex than we think, like everything else. I’m leery of numbers that only show up on a machine, even if the numbers represent something said to be important. I imagine some schnook peering in disbelief at a dim red readout and smacking the thing, and the number changes.
I thought I was gonna see Anthony Watts, too, a prominent climate-change skeptic. McPherson and Watts were going to debate, except Watts had a personal emergency and didn’t show, so McPherson gave us a talk, which essentially amounted to we’re all going to die soon. Climate change from human activity has gone so far that nothing we do is likely to make a difference, and all this you see around you is going away. There’s a forty-year lag between the causes and the effects, so the weather we’re getting now was influenced by what people were doing in 1974. We’ve got maybe another generation or so and then that’s it, no more civilization and no more us. Life will go on, just not us folks.
I was stunned. A friend had told me that McPherson’s spiel was a major downer, and she did not exaggerate. I was at first alarmed that my sons mightn’t have as long a ride as I had envisioned. Then I thought that longevity for its own sake doesn’t seem as worthy a goal as service, for instance, and the quality of their lives is up to each of them. I don’t mind civilization going away as long as it takes congress and the banks with it. I don’t mind people dying out either, although I bet a few of us survive, mostly assholes.
Peter Melton showed us a video of Anthony Watts, but it didn’t amount to much, and I looked Watts up later online. Wow, talk about another perspective.
McPherson is a serious man. He lives sustainably off the grid in southern New Mexico and admits that climate change and the end of civilization will affect him far less than it will the rest of us. I like the way he walks the walk. Guy McPherson is not fucking around.
Guy McPherson has also been doing this for thirty years, and his theory infuses his public persona and private life. He’s got all the facts and numbers at his disposal and is as glib as he ought to be after thirty years of practice. He seems like a nice guy, and I liked the way his talks—I also went to the discussion at the Chico Peace and Justice Center the next night—ended with appeals to rely on love and live as well as we can until we can’t anymore. At the end of the Thursday gathering at CPJC we actually joined hands and sang Kumbaya, no shit.
Doomsday might be coming right up, and it might be just the ticket. We don’t know where to yet, but we know it’s one-way. Whatever; I’m not sweating it.