Washington, DC (TFC) -Guy McPherson is an energetic speaker and talented moderator. He has appeared before countless audiences to speak about the two primary consequences of our fossil-fuel addiction: global climate change and energy decline. Most recently, McPherson has become known as the primary messenger with respect to near-term human extinction.
Guy is professor emeritus of natural resources and the environment at the University of Arizona, where he taught and conducted research for twenty award-winning years. His scholarly work, which has for many years focused on conservation of biological diversity, has produced more than a dozen books and hundreds of articles. He lives in an off-grid, straw-bale house in southern, rural New Mexico.
Because the topics of his presentations sometimes induce despair, Guy became a certified grief-recovery specialist in January 2014. The certification came from The Grief Recovery Institute.
1. What would you say to those who believe that there is no conclusive evidence of man made climate change in order to convince them?
I do not respond to such ignorance. The evidence in support of anthropogenic climate change is overwhelming, and has been presented by many people in many outlets. If you still don’t believe the evidence, there’s nothing I can do or say to change your mind.
2. Do you believe civilization and agriculture were the beginnings of our unsustainable practices?
Yes, I believe civilization is the root of our myriad predicaments. Civilization is characterized by the ability and willingness to grow of food that can be stored (e.g., grains). Controlling food allows the control of people. Storing food allows human-population overshoot.
3. Are state solutions the way out of this?
As pointed out by Tim Garrett’s excellent scientific research, civilization is a heat engine. There are no state solutions. Further, there are no solutions. Anthropogenic climate change is a predicament, not a problem. Turning off the heat engine of civilization is the only way to stop overheating the planet.
4. What do you think of primitivists?
I think primitivists are people. Therefore, I respect and honor them.
5. What are your thoughts on greenwashing?
Most of what passes for “solutions” is greenwashing. I have another word for it: lying. You might prefer the term propaganda. Edward Bernays would be pleased with the ongoing campaign to make people feel good about themselves.
6. How do we deal with the grief of this reality?
Recognition of grief allows recovery from grief. When you have a piece of shrapnel buried deep in your hip, and it causes pain for many years, there’s only one long-term solution: get in there, extract the shrapnel, and clean the wound. When the pain is emotional instead of physical, the same concept applies. In this case, the cleaning of the wound involves the heart instead of the hip.
7. Can you compare Derrick Jensen’s “forget shorter showers” with Al Gore’s “an inconvenient truth”?
Jensen’s brilliant essay demonstrates that conservation will not successfully address this predicament. Al Gore’s approach incorrectly indicates conservation as a solution. Gore’s science was largely correct at the time, but his “solutions” were, for the most part, examples of greenwashing.
8. Are sabotage and resistance, such as that seen by ELF and indigenous movements a tactic you’d support?
I support the living planet. I support indigenous humans and non-human species. I support the development of ideas, including tactics, that allow for continued support of indigenous humans and other organisms.
I’ve not destroyed any dams or other major infrastructure designed to further civilization and therefore destroy the living planet. I respect and honor those who take these courageous steps, including Idle No More.
9. What advice would you give young activists on how to effectively fight against apathy and burn out?
Do what you love, for as long as you can. If you don’t love it, stop doing it.
10. What do you think about the United States Green Party?
The U.S. Green Party is still a party. It may be the lesser of evils. But, because the party supports civilization, it’s still evil from the perspective of destroying the living planet.
11. What would you say to those who say the only way out of civilization is to kill millions if not billions of people and no one should get to decide that?
Civilization is killing every aspect of the living planet, including habitat for humans. Maintaining industrial civilization means maintaining a death cult. We go deeper into human-population overshoot every day, yet terminating civilization is viewed as immoral. Civilization enables dirtying the waters, fouling the air, and eroding soil into the oceans, yet civilization is viewed as unimpeachably good by nearly every participant.
When civilization fails — as all civilizations do — many people will die. Had industrial civilization collapsed 40 years ago, the loss of human life would have been much lower than if industrial civilization collapses tomorrow. The same holds for 40 years from now. Sustaining this unsustainable set of living arrangements is impossible.
12. What got you interested in Environmentalism?
I spent much of my childhood outdoors and unsupervised. Later, to pay for college, I was a wildland firefighter. I suspect both sets of experiences enamored me to the natural world. I never quit my pursuit of outdoor life. As a conservation biologist, I conducted field research for decades. I am comfortable outside.
13. How do your colleagues, specifically involved in technological pursuits and engineering feel about your views?
I’m no longer in touch with my ex-colleagues, most of whom believe I’m insane. I never had many interactions with techno-topiasts, and I have essentially no peers in the arena of abrupt climate change leading to human extinction in the near term.
14. How do you feel about Ted Kazinski and John Zerzan?
They both harbor great ideas. But there is no large-scale impetus or leadership to take us to a more sane set of living arrangements. They must be very frustrated.
15. How do we start a successful revolution?
Every revolution has failed. I don’t foresee the next one succeeding. Regardless, we’re just about out of time as a species.
16. what are your thoughts on sectarianism?
I’ve been accused of having Buddhist tendencies. I take these accusations as compliments. I’m a fan of moderation.
17. Any final thoughts or recommendations for media?
It’s later than most people believe. It’s time to throw off the shackles of culture. It’s time to live.