Faster than Expected

Guy McPherson


“As I’ve pointed out previously, I doubt there will be a human on Earth by mid-2026. Indeed, I doubt there will be complex life on this planet by then. It’ll be a small world, as was the case in the wake of each of the five prior Mass Extinction events on Earth. Bacteria, fungi, and microbes will dominate. As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, humans will lose habitat on Earth before the last human dies. The final human will probably die after running out of canned food in a bunker. And he or she will not know human extinction has occurred.”—Guy McPherson

Going Dark

By Guy McPherson

“Death Throw,” by Mike Beauregard.

“Death Throw,” by Mike Beauregard.

“But tomorrow came faster than expected, as if the future were never somewhere else, but all along part of the fabric of every present, merely untwining itself again and again into a new distinction that could never be new again.”—Mark Z. Danielewski

Guy McPhersonSAN ANTONIO Belize—(Weekly Hubris)—May 2017—As I’ve pointed out previously, I doubt there will be a human on Earth by mid-2026. Indeed, I doubt there will be complex life on this planet by then. It’ll be a small world, as was the case in the wake of each of the five prior Mass Extinction events on Earth. Bacteria, fungi, and microbes will dominate.

As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, humans will lose habitat on Earth before the last human dies. The final human will probably die after running out of canned food in a bunker. And he or she will not know human extinction has occurred.

According to the Pentagon’s JASON Group, the situation for life on Earth will be far worse than I have ever described. A well-informed insider there wrote on 19 December 2016: “THE JASON GROUP at the Pentagon is getting new data (upon my constant requests) that the effect of over 450 reactors melting down will most likely destroy the Ozone layers. Rather than going Venus, Earth will end up more like Mars. Very dead with almost no chance to regenerate an atmosphere. Report to be published in 2017.”

The ice-free Arctic predicted by the US Naval Postgraduate School in 2016, + 3 years, seems likely in 2017. Arctic ice is very fragile. Regardless of when it arrives, the near-term ice-free Arctic will be experienced by humans for the first time. Ever. This event might trigger the 50-Gt burst of methane forecast by Shakhova and colleagues at the European Geophysical Union annual meeting in 2008 (“We consider release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage as highly possible for abrupt release at any time”). I reasonably use the ice-free Arctic as a proxy for this first burst of atmospheric methane. After all, it’s been “highly possible for abrupt release at any time” for nearly a decade. In May 2015, Shakhova lied about the research group’s earlier statement about an abrupt release of methane—when she could have easily retracted the statement—saying, “We never stated that 50 gigatonnes is likely to be released in near or distant future.” Arctic methane release increased significantly between 2014 and the autumn of 2016.

The first 50-gigatonne burst of methane described by Shakhova et al translates to a global temperature rise of 1.3 C, which causes civilization to collapse because grains cannot be grown at scale. Industrial civilization, as with its predecessors, requires grain production and storage. This abrupt rise in temperature would be felt within a few weeks in the Northern Hemisphere—where nearly all civilization-supporting grains are grown—and within a year throughout the world. It would take Earth’s global-average temperature well beyond the point that has supported humans in the past. Ever.

Lack of global dimming adds another ~3 C. Earth is then ~6 C above the 1750 baseline by the following spring (2018?). About ⅔ of the temperature rise comes within a few months. I doubt there’s habitat for humans or many other animals at that point. After all, the slow rise in global-average temperature documented so far outstrips the ability of vertebrates to adapt by more than 10,000 times.

In other words, not long after civilization fails—and certainly by mid-2026—the planet will harbor no humans. Not in bunkers. Not in caves, eating canned peaches. I’ll go well beyond betting my life on it: I’ll bet human existence.

Some claim Earth’s climate sensitivity is insufficient to permit a global-average rise in temperature with such rapidity. They claim the oceans will buffer the Southern Hemisphere, which has relatively little land surface. They claim a long lag between a volcano ejection and the subsequent change in global dimming. In making these claims, they are ignorant about evidence: climate sensitivity is very high. Consider the following, minor example: On 14 September 2001, three days after planes in the United States were grounded because of the events of 9/11, a change in global dimming was measured.

Ponder that fact for a minute. The global-average temperature of the planet was altered three days after some planes were grounded. Fossil fuels were still burned throughout the world. A few contrails were lost. That’s it.

In the extremely unlikely event there is a human on Earth in ten years, that person will be hungry, thirsty, lonely, and bathing in ionizing radiation. Every day will be more tenuous than the day before, as is already the case for most organisms on this planet. Habitat for human animals will return in a few million years. Humans will not. Ever.

Some people are preparing for the collapse of civilization. I used to be one of them. Now I spend my days living, rather than pursuing dying more slowly than expected.

It’s not as if I desire near-term human extinction via abrupt climate change or any other means. I do know all species go extinct, even the ones we love. And, unfortunately, I’m capable of connecting the few dots that lead to our demise. Contrary to the vast majority of people I know, I’m not afraid of the truth, even though it involves my death in the very near future.

And, to be clear, I did not cause near-term human extinction as a result of abrupt climate change. It wasn’t even my idea! Nobody accuses the oncologist of causing cancer. Ever.

I doubt my radicalism gives way to wishful thinking. Ever.

I doubt my love of life on Earth dissipates. Ever.

Carpe diem (seize the day). There aren’t many of them left.

Pressum diem (squeeze the day). Make every one matter. Like all of us, the days are going away faster than expected.

Note: The image above, titled “Death Throw,” derives from Mike Beauregard .

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

Guy McPherson

About Guy McPherson

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 14 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
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16 Responses to Faster than Expected

  1. Avatar Michael Troy says:

    About 2 years ago I gave you $50. I wish I had more to give, but perhaps in the future I will. I consider you to be the greatest public intellectual of our time. I did go through a great depression after I absorbed your truth, but it did liberate me and eventually gave me peace. Thank you for your efforts and compassion.

  2. Thank you, Michael. I struggle every day with the message. I know it is difficult to accept. You are not alone.

  3. Avatar Laurie Harberson says:

    My husband and I have followed your site for quite awhile and have reluctantly come to the conclusion that you are right
    . He always said he was looking forward to watching the end and riding that last wave together. Last month he committed suicide. If you are in doubt about anyone close to you, ask specifically and directly. It might make a difference.

  4. Avatar Hex32 says:

    With all the fervor with trying to go to Mars and make it livable, it seems to me with the information on what the Pentagon thinks with Earth’s atmosphere going the way of Mars… perhaps the goal all along with the Mars colonization is to actually find a way to make Earth habitable after climate collapse.

    They have no intention of going to Mars. Mars is coming to us.

  5. I’m sorry for your loss, Laurie. Thank you for your sage advice.

    Hex32, you’ve nailed it. There’s no need to book tickets to Mars: We’re bringing Mars to Earth.

  6. Avatar Roger Smith says:

    Thanks again Dr. Guy for your insight and observations.
    I’m actually coming to terms with NTE. After following your work with a great deal of skepticism or perhaps just “Fear”, for the past few years, it has become apparent that you have been spot on with your collection and interpretation of the data concerning abrupt climate change. It has been a difficult transition into acceptance and I am aware of the hopelessness of the situation, however, out of dispair can a flower bloom! Life is still worthwhile, Love still endures until our final breath. I will not leave before it’s necessary but I will not endure the tragic end either. I will live and love as long as such a life persists. Your emails have been comforting and thoughtful, and I thank you for helping me make the transition peacefully. Peace to you as you keep up the work.

  7. Thank you, Roger. May peace and joy find you daily.

  8. Avatar drew hempel says:

    My understanding, as per Peter Ward, is that biodiversity is at an all time high in the history of life on Earth right now in the midst of human civilization wiping it out at the highest rate of extinctions in life on Earth (more or less). Anyway I intuited this in high school, hearing Sting bemoan the loss of the Amazon in the 1980s, and then discovering the activism of indigenous peoples in Minnesota, etc. so I realized that death needs to be confronted to discover the meaning of life.

    So, as I have emailed you before, then, I began building on my music training, to research this situation we are in – I went to Hampshire College and took quantum mechanics my first year. This was a mind-blowing experience to learn about quantum nonlocal entanglement and how spin is 720 degrees. Amazingly my professor emphasized that quantum physics should be the first physics course taught, instead of the classical physics that people learn in high school first, since classical physics is not the foundation of science.

    So in high school I scored 98% on the ACT in biology – but I was approaching it from music theory by reading Gregory Bateson’s book, “Mind and Nature: A necessary Unity.” By the end of my master’s degree, I realized the math Bateson relied on was the wrong math – it was logistics math and this problem goes back to the Greek Miracle of symmetric exponential math. Quantum and nonwestern music both rely on noncommutative phase – with the simple 1-4-5 music intervals as complementary opposites.

    Anyway I did the nonwestern music-mind body training as meditation to finish the master’s degree. Then 9/11 hit – by then I had been arrested 7 times doing civil disobedience for radical ecology and social justice, while working at Greenpeace, and many other nonprofits. Anyway when one of the top military dudes said the U.S. would be in so many wars – I knew enough about how the military plans to know this is true (from having read John Judge who was in a Pentagon family).

    So the Chinese dude I trained with – he was suicidal after the Cultural Revolution in China and he had been put into slave labor since his family had been managers of a factory. So anyway he was healed by this Shaolin qigong master and then he devoted his life to qigong training. Recently a PBS news story confirmed the Falun Gong followers getting arrested and then having their organs harvested – after being executed. Why? Besides the obvious money – their bodies were healthy from qigong! That has happened to probably 10s of thousands of qigong students in China, just because their particular form of qigong was declared illegal.

    Anyway – so after I did an 8 day meditation on just a half glass of water – then I had this death transcending experience, similar to what people describe from NDEs (Near Death experiences). So for example I know that spirits are real – that dead people leave their body as spirits – and also the emotional blockages can tie the body to Earth after death. And hence the beliefs in reincarnation, etc.

    So it is kind of fascinating to consider how the genocidal policies of civilized humans – going back at least ten thousand years – like you say when humans began storing food from monocultural wheat farming – how this was also based on ritual geometry practices – the math was tied to the spiritual training – as mass ritual sacrifice.

    In other words certain low level spirits feed off the life force energy of humans – the original human culture knew this was the main cause of illness – the San Bushmen culture. Their Eland Bull healing ritual music is older than when language first differentiated – before 2 different tribal dialects existed! So from before 70,000 years ago and this music spirit training culture still exists! So the music spirit training was the core of the original human culture – teaching the males to be peaceful, ecological and also to consider the roles of spirits.

    People want to dismiss this – but oh well. Yet even the naturalist who lived with the Mule Deer note that the Mule Deer will grieve the death of their fawns for 2 weeks – grieving so bad they are basically suicidal in some cases, and if a deer is sick, they take turns to lie next to the deer. That was replayed on Nature show recently. So mule deer (unlike white tail) speciated only 60,000 years ago apparently – and so co-evolved with humans in many respects. (please Dr. McPherson, if you can give any details on the Mule Deer that would be great).

    Current physics – a top Harvard physicist – actually believes that the future has already happened! That the foundation of reality is black hole information that is virtual – this physicist has published with Stephen Hawking, so he is no crank. Since I had precognition in detail, 3 years before it happened, based on an indigenous protest of a sacred forest – my Earth First! activist friends were standing on the roof of a house with native activists, holding a banner to protect a forest – the dream was more real than being awake! So I have to believe that indeed – our future has already happened and the truth of the universe is this black hole information that is a fifth dimension. Of course that science has “discovered” this truth also – does not in any way alleviate or justify the error of human civilization using the wrong mathematical logic from the wrong music theory.

  9. Avatar Tim Muzak says:

    I don’t typically publicize my opinions, but I want to open this comment with a “thank you” Mr McPherson. For having the courage and the conviction to try to enlighten our species to the realities we are now facing. I have been aware of “our” predicament for quite some time. I am a 56 year old white male from Canada and I had my first real “epiphany” moment back in the middle ’70’s when I read Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring”. Her quote “In nature, nothing exists alone” has stayed with me all these years, especially as we have ostracized nature, habitat and ultimately, core values for financial gain. Like you Guy, I decide long ago not to bring children into this world as I instinctively knew in my head and my heart that this predicament was in “my” future, and in “my” lifetime, therefore, would also be in my children’s. I have read numerous authors over the years, from Kunstler, Wrigth, Hitchens to Suzuki. So I am not “new” to this thought process of where we humans were headed. My quest now is not with the science, the numbers nor with the convincing of others. My quest is to face, learn and acknowledge what you have stated in your videos as the inevitable reality for all of us who are born, …..that is dying. Not by suicide, not the 5 steps of denial, not bartering with the lord or making this a palatable or comfortable process.
    There is a fellow Canadian named Stephen Jenkinson I would like to mention too you here that deals openly, honestly and spiritually with this subject. I came across him quite by accident on Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity youtube website and I was pleasantly surprised and a little overwhelmed by his honesty and candor on this subject. He has published a recent book called, “Die Wise” and I feel the that you and Jenkinson are basically on the same page but in different disciplines. Jenkinson had 20+ years in the hospice service in Toronto and made a film about his experiences/outlook with the National Film Board of Canada. I would like you to check him out as I feel he puts a perspective on this reality not generally found anywhere else in our North American culture. I feel strongly that this may be a good source for your followers who are struggling with the consequences and ultimately, with the inevitable….and maybe even yourself? And NO, I am not related, have stock in the publisher nor have I ever met the man, I only purchased his book! I look forward to seeing you in Hamilton Guy.
    Keep up the excellence in a mediocre world.

  10. Thank you, drew and Tim, for your insightful comments. Tim, we interviewed Jenkinson for NBL radio. It’s in the archives.

  11. Avatar Alan Wright says:

    First and foremost, thank you Dr. McPherson, for having the courage to suffer the proverbial slings and arrows that rain down on you as you strive to deliver an intellectual message that few people caught up in the Plan A paradigm will even engage with, let alone accept. We are all indebted to you and your work.

    It’s an often convoluted road we travel through life. I imagine it was just over a year ago that I became aware of your point of view. I suppose I can thank the Youtube algorithms for that. Coincidentally, I finally ponied up the money for Craig Dilworth’s “Too Smart For Our Own Good: The Ecological Predicament of Humankind.” The overall experience was such a devasting combination of punches that I am still reeling.

    It astounds me that what we call mainstream media can successfully, and on a continuing basis, misinform such a large portion of the population. Most recently concerning the current resident of the White House withdrawing from the Paris climate accords. My local paper published a hand wringing, umbrage laden editorial about how that action doomed the coastline of New Jersey to rising sea level destruction. Not an iota anywhere about virtually every serious environmentalist having considered COP 21, in the words of James Hansen, “bullshit” and a “fraud.”

    I felt I’d run the full environmental course. Watched the documentary “What A Way To Go” umpteen times. Become a donating menber of Read through a bookcase full of titles from, in no particular order, Manning, McKibben, Catton, Gershwin, Kolbert, Brown, Hansen, Mitchell, Speth, Lovelock (whose descent into kookiness might be attributed to his age) – you get the idea. All this only to discover that instead of “the great thinning” or “breeding pairs will survive” it is actually Bill Paxton’s line from Aliens – “game over man.” To call it a sobering experience would be quite the understatement. I can’t seem to get Albert Bartlett’s doubling time and exponential function videos out of my head.

    I’ve seen enough of your presentations to know how you regard terms like hope and believe. That said, I’ve never hoped more fervently for something that seemed so conclusive as your position to be incorrect. I guess we need a Hollywood ending. Maybe the planet has a little more tolerance for it’s talking ape’s depredations than we know. Maybe we experience an environmental calamity so cataclysmic that it wakes us up and we at least go down swinging. Maybe – that was a great song from the late ’50’s. Arlene Smith could belt that tune out of the transistor radio for sure.

    Finally, thanks for giving me a place to blow off some steam. When thinking about our predicament I often remember an American Memorial Day weekend several years ago. It was a beautiful late spring day in New York’s lower Hudson Valley. A lovely breeze, cloud dappled blue sky. My friends then nine year old daughter, my angel in this world, and her friends were trying to fly little kites in the backyard. As they managed to get one airborne and lifted their hands toward the sky to usher it aloft the smile of pure joy on her face created one of those oh so rare once in a lifetime images. I so want to believe our failings haven’t closed the book on us.

    Thanks again for all you do.

  12. Thank you, Alan. Sometimes all we can do is bear witness.

  13. Avatar Gail Coleman says:

    I am grateful for your honesty. The truth actually terrifies me, mostly for my children. When the time comes, I guess the best I can do is try to keep them as calm and comfortable as possible. It rips me apart. So, the advice you gave me a while ago, “Be here now” has taken on a new urgency with them.
    Thank you for your work and your honesty. I know it has exacted a very high toll from you. It was truly an honor to meet you back in July. I’m glad to know you!

  14. Thank you for the affirmative comment, Gail. It is a pleasure to know you.

  15. Avatar Charlotte A. says:

    I have just discovered your writings, Dr. McPherson, and thank you, thank you. I have known this most of my adult life (I am 60), and not because of being an environmentalist nor from reading the studies (though I have been and done both). I have known the truth of what you are saying because I have SEEN and SENSED the changes happening — insidiously, so quietly and slowly that most people don’t believe me, or they don’t want to acknowledge it.

    I remember the cacophony of birdsong outside my bedroom window in the 1960s, an incredibly dense and colorful texture of sound I would lie in bed and listen to as I woke up. I haven’t heard that for decades. I remember that the sky was a deeper azure: I realized this when I bought a new pair of sunglasses the other day, and they were polarized in such a way, I guess, that when I put them on I had a physical, visceral flashback to my childhood, to a memory of what the sky used to look like.

    I have noticed for years that there is less wind where I live — just more days where flora seems suspended, out of breath, waiting . . . . And how every year the turning of the leaves slows and changes. The leaves die and fall off the trees long before they have turned color, or only the tips of the tree branches up high turn color at all. Year-round, the colors of leaves, trees, plants are noticeably dimming, becoming more drab.

    And over the past five or six years, my garden has changed: there are way more pests that attack my crops, including birds and squirrels. For 20 years we never put up a net and had very little loss to insects — now everything (from berries to potato patch) is netted, and I lose most of my greens to leaf miners and flea beetles if I don’t put (questionably “organic”?) spray down early.

    Last year, suddenly, like, within a month, hundreds of Douglas fir trees died all over my county. The forests that were formerly solid blankets of green were suddenly studded with red (dead) firs. It was so obviously, so shocking, that I called my local newspaper to see if they would do a story on it. Resounding silence.

    I think we are all noticing how much warmer it is, and how much earlier the seasons are turning over. But what no one is talking about is how FAST that earlier cycling is happening in just the past couple of years. No one is talking about the fact that the local weather forecast is wrong more and more often (because it’s based on modeling that doesn’t work anymore) — and it’s always wrong in the SAME way: it always predicts that a given front or system will be cooler or wetter or come faster than ends up being the case.

    But I see it. I SEE it. It’s heartbreaking to see it and to know where we are heading — but it has been even more heartbreaking to feel so alone with what I see so clearly. To have no one who would grieve with me. So. Thank you.

  16. Thank you, Charlotte. Your thoughtful affirmation brings me to tears.

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