“I was not a climate scientist. I still am not. I am reasonably knowledgeable about climate science, however. As part of my ecological research, I have been studying climate science since I was a graduate student in the early 1980s. Eventually, my incomplete knowledge of ecology and climate science led to the worst mistake of my life (thus far): my love for the living planet led me to abandon the monetary system, which I recognized as the driver leading to human extinction.”—Dr. Guy McPherson
By Dr. Guy McPherson
BELLOWS FALLS Vermont—(Hubris)—1 August 2023—Mine was the epitome of the American success story. Valedictorian of my high-school class, graduating with high honors from college, I took the fast track to MS and PhD. degrees. A brief postdoctoral research position led to my first post as a professor when I was 28 (at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas). I began my pursuit of tenure the following year, 1989, at the University of Arizona. There, I joined the fewer than 1 in 200 people to receive a PhD degree in the natural sciences and have it lead to a position as a full professor (see Figure 1.6 on page 14). Contrary to the usual, time-consuming approach, I achieved full professor status before I turned 40 years of age.
I loved my life on campus. I loved interacting with young people intent on “saving the world.” This had been my mission, too.
The students I advised went on to great success. They included the inaugural director of the National Natural Landmarks Program and, later, the second and current director of the sister program to the National Historic Landmarks Program. They also included the inaugural director of the National Phenology Network and, later, the second and current director of this renowned program.
As field ecologists, the students I advised worked side-by-side with each other and with me for thousands of hours in challenging conditions. We worked hard in temperatures unsuitable for hard work, putting in 18-hour days during the field season. We rode in vehicles to field sites and also to regional and national conferences to present our work to colleagues. I visited my students’ homes. They frequently visited my home. We socialized together as one means of humanizing our shared work.
I was not a climate scientist. I still am not. I am reasonably knowledgeable about climate science, however. As part of my ecological research, I have been studying climate science since I was a graduate student in the early 1980s. Eventually, my incomplete knowledge of ecology and climate science led to the worst mistake of my life (thus far): my love for the living planet led me to abandon the monetary system, which I recognized as the driver leading to human extinction.
As a successful professor, I assumed others would follow my lead. Fortunately, few did. Only a few years after I left campus life did my information grow to include the aerosol masking effect, which I have described previously in this space. Several years after I abandoned campus life, peer-reviewed information detailed the importance of planetary super-heating as a result of nuclear power plants melting down as humans either return home to be with their loved ones or die. Either way, a few abandoned nuclear facilities will lead to the type of heating that will cause the extinction of all life on Earth.
This was not what I had in mind when I parted ways with the monetary system, even though the monetary system was and is driving us to extinction.
The point of this already-too-long essay is that incomplete knowledge often leads to incorrect decisions. The ego-driven work ethic instilled in me by my parents led to enormous success. This “success” was followed by my ego-driven belief that many people would follow my path as I led the way in “quiet quitting.”
I have long encouraged people to do what they love, and to do it well. However, the accumulation of additional information often leads to “surprises,” as is the case with the best-kept secrets in climate science. The Chinese government is struggling to become the global leader in technological innovation specifically because the Chinese people have quietly rebelled against working long hours for low pay. The “lying flat” movement, similar to “quiet quitting,” has been roundly criticized by a government that seeks global domination at the expense of the people. As you can imagine, I side with the people.
I side with the masses for several reasons, including my lack of desire for the exploitation of the Chinese people.
A line from the 2016 film Captain Fantastic comes to mind: “Power to the people, stick it to the man!” The quote from Captain Fantastic applies to all people who work hard for low pay so that a few billionaires can continue to accumulate fiat currency at an astonishingly rapid pace.
I have long recommended that people live where they feel most alive and, simultaneously, where they feel most useful. I see no reason to let any federal government interfere with these pursuits. After all, our individual lives are short. Further enriching a billionaire or two is no path to happiness, at least not for those of us who are not billionaires.
Life is short. It’s better when we play now and then, and especially when we play together.
To order Dr. McPherson’s books, click the cover images here below: