A Letter to the Future (Best of WH)


“If you’re reading these words and comprehending their meaning, it’s too late for my premier bit of advice: do not use written language. It’s temptingly beautiful, like a flower with thorns or a venomous invertebrate. But using language, like using thorns or venom, is a short-term proposition. And death can result from a single contact with any of the three.”—Guy McPherson

Going Dark

By Guy McPherson

Message, preferably non-verbal, in a bottle.
Message, preferably non-verbal, in a bottle.

“In pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it is perched.”Paul Ehrlich

Guy McPhersonSAN ANTONIO Belize—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published in February 2017—I have a few suggestions, if you’re interested. But first, please accept an apology on behalf of my self-absorbed species. We left a helluva mess. Sorry about that.

The mess is so bad, I’m surprised you’re here. We left a small world in our wake, populated with microbes, bacteria, fungi, and similar, “simple” life forms.

You must’ve brought what you need to survive. Maybe it’s several million turns around the sun after the year we called 2018. Probably you’re self-reliant and way late to our little extinction party.

Earth’s final civilization turned out great for a few people. Hot showers and bacon were the highlights for many of us. In retrospect, destroying our only home for a few bucks and a BLT wasn’t the swiftest plan we could’ve developed. To the “credit” of our species, most people were too ignorant and too stupid to evaluate evidence, so perhaps only the small minority of us sounding the alarm are to blame.

Anyway, back to that unsolicited advice. I have little to say and I’m hardly a reliable source. After all, my species went extinct at a young age. I predicted and documented our fall, but I didn’t prevent it. Too late, I realized the untoward behavior of the civilized members of my species could not be swayed by rational thinking.

If you’re reading these words and comprehending their meaning, it’s too late for my premier bit of advice: do not use written language. It’s temptingly beautiful, like a flower with thorns or a venomous invertebrate. But using language, like using thorns or venom, is a short-term proposition. And death can result from a single contact with any of the three.

If you come across anything flammable, run away. Somebody in your group is bound to harness the fire, at least for a while. Shortly thereafter, you’ll all discover fire cannot be harnessed for long. This white-hot lesson will come after the exam.

Language and fire are the two major forces leading to destruction of habitat. Without them, you’ll last long. With them, you’ll soon be gone. I suspect my warning is too late for either of the two.

Beyond language and fire, recognize that there are a few other factors that can contribute to your early demise. Civilization comes immediately to mind and, as with language and fire, I suspect I’m too late. Civilization is nearly as tempting as language and fire.

Civilization, to be brief, means storing food. Once the food is stored, it’s easy to keep from some people. So it’s locked up and ultimately assigned monetary value. A few blinks of the eyes later, you’re all dead.

Contrary to one of the overriding messages of civilization, there are no others. If you contemplate idolizing, worshiping, insulting, or attacking others, throw yourself into a volcano before the idea catches on. The others you believe you see are, in fact, the various forms of you. Treat them—and by them, I mean yourself—as you’d treat yourself, not like you treat the pocket knife you borrowed from your cousin. Treat them with dignity, respect, and love.

Remember that everybody dies and that all species go extinct. See. Smell. Taste. Listen. Touch. Breathe. Learn. You want more? Really? To what end, beyond a quick and violent end?

Like every living being, you have needs. Unlike many living beings, you also have desires that you are able to recognize. Learn to distinguish the needs from the wants and focus on securing the former. If you don’t obsess about your desires, you’ll be happier. And the beings that aren’t plagued with desires—the reflections of yourself—will persist a while longer. So will you and those you care about.

Care more than you believe is possible. Wear your proverbial heart on your proverbial sleeve. Let it get smashed. Love, and suffer as a result. Trust me: it’s all worth it. The going up is worth the coming down. The pain of living—really living, not merely making a living—is occasionally rewarded by joy.

I doubt you can find joy. If you’re lucky and attentive, it might find you.

If joy finds you, revel. Embrace the moment. Remember it. You might even jot down a note. If ever you stumble across the opportunity to create the conditions that brought you joy, seize the moment on behalf of someone else. After all, that someone else is really another form of you, longing for a moment of joy to relieve his or her suffering. If you are given the rare privilege of creating joy for another, and you don’t pursue it, please take advantage of that volcano mentioned above.

Finally, remember this: moments matter. They’re all you’ll ever have. They are gifts of enormous magnitude. Be grateful. Make them count.

To order Dr. McPherson’s books, click the cover images here below:

McPherson going dark cover

McPherson Walking Away from Empire - A Personal Journey cover

Dr. Guy McPherson is an internationally recognized speaker, award-winning scientist, and one of the world’s leading authorities on abrupt climate change leading to near-term human extinction. He is professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, where he taught and conducted research for 20 years. His published works include 16 books and hundreds of scholarly articles. Dr. McPherson has been featured on television and radio and in several documentary films. He is a blogger and social critic who co-hosts his own radio show, “Nature Bats Last.” Dr. McPherson speaks to general audiences across the globe, and to scientists, students, educators, and not-for-profit and business leaders who seek their best available options when confronting Earth’s cataclysmic changes. Visit McPherson’s Author Page at (Author Head Shot Augment: René Laanen.)


  • Angel

    It’s sad if a bad situation results in isolation or an inability to trust. And it’s better to have loved and lost, then to have never loved at all. Don’t go too far. You will be missed. By many.

    Sending a butt pinch your way,

  • Andrea Crosby

    Guy. Thank you. I can see so much of your good soul in this piece. I hear the depth of love for your fellow human being. Speaks Volumes…and is so clear.

  • charles peden

    Dear Doctor McPherson:

    Don’t you think that nuclear winter might save us? I mean it’s a long shot, but have you figure such an event into your thinking? See you in the Shetland Islands.


  • Anthony

    I read one of your essays close to a week ago. Although it had a few words that were above my paygrade, the essay did enlighten me as to the status of your character. Very touching. Talk to you soon.

  • Guy McPherson

    Thanks to Gary, charles, Anthony, and my dear friend Dr. Epiphany for the comments. charles, I suspect nuclear winter looks a lot like Solar Radiation Management, meaning a brief pause in warming followed by a tremendous spike in warming.

  • Jo

    I wish I would have come across your work earlier. I don’t have your depth of knowledge or your formal education however your words validate what I have always felt and you feel so familiar to me! I love your quirky and irreverent sense of humour! Having lost all of my family except my 2 adult children I was coming to terms with the loss of this amazing planet with humble gratitude for its intelligence..and then something very unexpected happened …a beautiful granddaughter…now what?

  • Guy McPherson

    Thank you for your message, Jo, and congratulations on the birth of your granddaughter. Appreciate her. Spoil her with your affection. Love her as if every moment together is your last. Cherish every moment with her in your life.

  • Alan Paul

    As succinct and concise a summary of the history of civilization as any:

    “Civilization, to be brief, means storing food. Once the food is stored, it’s easy to keep from some people. So it’s locked up and ultimately assigned monetary value. A few blinks of the eyes later, you’re all dead.”

    Some ten to twenty thousand years–a geological blink of the eye–in about three dozen words.

  • Trent Black

    All your work is totally awesome. THANK YOU FOR SACRIFCING SO MUCH SO WE CAN KNOW THE TRUTH. I first time I saw one of your video’s I did not understand it. I was like, “What is he talking about?” So I and went and looked it all up. And after about 6 months to a 1 year of crazy research, I got it. I know when more then anybody I have met. So once in a while, I will respond to the deniers, but there are so many. They are starting to talk about you now, and I make sure they understand you are not a hero but a super hero.

    I live in a small town. I write about some environmental stuff. No body cares what-so-ever and are quick to call me lib-tard or tree hugger. Nobody looks up any facts. Once i pushed the issue on climate change, and she was more mad that I pushed the issue then we all are gonna die.

    I am a socialist in a capitalist ohio town. Nobody will talk about that either. Nor will anybody talk about the endless war of the USA, like you say.

    I view the human species different then you. I am soooo happy we are going extinct, it gives joy to my day. Not the suffering, but we leave behind the endless nastiness humans create for all species. One guy was trying to save homo sapien dna. I think I talked him out of it. I can finally not have to talk what is happening on what tv show and call that a deep meaningful conversation.


  • Andrew Groff

    Guy, I don’t know where to start, but, thank you; thank you for your wisdom, your caring, your sacrifices and your determination. I don’t see you as giving up, rather, as taking the next step — as we all must. Coming to terms with our predicament is work I must do and you made that a little easier. I have spent the last 10 years as an activist and I empathize with your feelings. I suppose your words enabled me to accept my own failures in the mind-changing business as well. It was not for nothing and we did change a lot of minds, just not the evil determined ones who run things. I wish you well and as soon as I have myself unencumbered from my fiscal roots here I may swing by Belize as has been my goal for some time. Know that you are loved and valued by many of the unnamed and unmet. Be here, be well, be loved. -A

  • Brian Fitch

    Has anyone ever noticed that all math books assume that you already know math? Just sayin’ . . .
    Just wanted to say Hi, Guy!
    Best Wishes
    Feed Jake

  • Grace Lorraine

    You’re tremendous, Guy; this essay is so brilliant.
    And funny! I’ve shared it to my Facebook page, in the hope that I will help create the conditions of “Joy” for anyone who might spot it on my page and follow it….
    Alas, it is likely only a person who is already “on board” with the truth who might shed happy laughter tears, as I have.
    I’m dreaming about Belize!

  • Vicki

    Thank you thank you thank you for your beautiful perspective of how it is to live from the heart. It feels like I’ve been given permission to live the way my heart has always whispered is the authentic way. So sad that we have done this to our wonderful world. Blessings x

  • Denny Thomas

    Your words above are full of wisdom and are inspiring to me. I am so techtarded that I do not even know if this will reach you, but for the first time you have written something I find disturbing-the account of your betrayal in Greece. I hope you and Paulina are alright. Please hang in-as you know, there are people all over the world who care about you very much.

  • Guy McPherson

    Thank you for your thoughtful message, Denny. You’ve overcome your techtardation, a task I’m often unable to complete. Pauline and I are safely home with our tribe in Belize.