No Surrender


“Giving up is not giving in: accepting our fate is not synonymous with jumping into the absurdly omnicidal mainstream. Just because we’re opossums on the roadway doesn’t mean we should play possum. Resistance is fertile, after all.”—Guy McPherson

Going Dark

By Guy McPherson

The omnicidal mainstream.

The omnicidal mainstream.

Guy McPhersonSAN ANTONIO Belize—(Weekly Hubris)—March 2017—I’m routinely accused of giving up. Worse, it is often written that the message of near-term human extinction encourages people to give up. As the primary messenger of this devastating message, I’m often at the receiving end of messages fueled by ignorance and its frequent companion, hatred.

For what it’s worth—and I suspect my two cents is overpriced this time—this essay serves as a correction to my detractors. I’m neither giving up on the living planet nor encouraging others to do the same.

Giving up is not giving in: accepting our fate is not synonymous with jumping into the absurdly omnicidal mainstream. Just because we’re opossums on the roadway doesn’t mean we should play possum. Resistance is fertile, after all. To employ a bit of The Boss: “In the end, what you don’t surrender, well, the world just strips away.”

Or, to employ a bit of Zen: Let go, or be dragged.

Or, to employ a bit of popular culture: Carpe diem.

Or, to employ a bit of Nietzsche: “Live as though the day were here.”

Climate chaos is well under way, and has become irreversible over temporal spans relevant to humans because of self-reinforcing feedback loops (so-called positive feedbacks). Such is the nature of reaching the acceleration phase of the non-linear system that is climate catastrophe.

As a result of ongoing, accelerating climate change, I’m letting go of the notion that Homo sapiens will inhabit this planet beyond 2026. I’m letting go of the notion that, within a few short years, there will remain any habitat for humans in the interior of any large continent. I’m letting go of the notion we’ll retain even a fraction of one percent of the species currently on Earth beyond 2030. But I’m not letting go of the notion of resistance, which is a moral imperative.

I will no longer judge people for buying into cultural conditioning. It’s far easier to live in a city, at the height of civilization’s excesses, than not. I know how easy it is to live in a city surrounded by beautiful distractions and pleasant interactions, and I fully understand the costs and consequences of dwelling there, as well as the price to be paid in the near future. I spent about half my life in various cities, and I understand the physical ease and existential pain of living at the apex of empire.

Also, I know all about the small joys and great pains associated with living in the country. I spent the other half of my life in the country and in towns with fewer than 1,000 people. I understand why the country bumpkin is assigned stereotypical labels related to ignorance and, paradoxically, self-reliance.

It’s clearly too late to tear down this irredeemably corrupt system and realize any substantive benefits for humans or other organisms. And yet I strongly agree with activist Lierre Keith: “The task of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much personal integrity as possible; it is to dismantle those systems.”

If it seems I’m filled with contradictions, color me fully human in a Walt Whitman sort of way: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Our remaining time on this orb is too short to cast aspersions at those who live differently from ourselves, as most people in industrialized countries have done throughout their lives. Most people in the industrialized world became cultural crack babies in the womb. There is little hope of breaking the addiction of ingestion at this late point in the era of industry, and I’m throwing in the towel on changing the minds of willfully ignorant Americans. No longer will I try to convince people to give up the crack pipe based on my perception of reality.

My continued efforts to speak and write will represent personal perspectives and actions. I’ll no longer recommend to others the path I’ve taken.

Nietzsche’s comment about seizing the day, every day, brings to mind the final words of Joseph Campbell’s 1949 book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces: “It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal—carries the cross of the redeemer—not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.”

With the preceding dire news in mind, it would be easy to forget how fortunate we are. After all, we get to die. This simple fact alone is cause for celebration because it indicates that we get to live. As I wrote many years ago, our knowledge of DNA assures us that the odds of any one of us existing are greater than the odds against being a particular grain of sand on all the world’s beaches. No, the odds are much greater than that: they exceed the odds of being a single atom plucked from the entire universe. To quote the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, “In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I that are privileged to be here, privileged with eyes to see where we are and brains to wonder why.”

It’s quite a deal, and no surrender is necessary. We get to live. Let’s live. Let’s be fully present. Let’s live here now.

The image which illustrates this essay derives from

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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 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
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17 Responses to No Surrender

  1. Jef says:

    I personally know/knew 3 people who committed suicide. It is my observation that they did it purely for selfish reasons which I guess is how it works. IMO they always were going to do it, I could almost feel it.

    I also know another dozen or so people who have threatened to do it. This always scares people and they tip toe around them from then on. I think its BS for the most part and try to deal with it through humor and “deep companionship*”.

    Almost without fail when I explain the convergence of predicaments man kind has brought upon itself I get this response, something like, and I am paraphrasing, “well if I can’t participate in omnicide then I might as well commit suicide”. So of the two options everyone invariably chooses to to participate in omnicide because its a lot more fun.

    In my humble opinion this dynamic has been going on for as long as I have been observing things but it is not the only option.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Jef and Maritza. These dark days call for meaningful discussions.

  3. Tim says:

    Who is to say that we aren’t spiritual creatures and what lies beyond the Earth is pleasant and wonderful? As someone who like facts and proof, I lean towards there being nothing but then again, how did this all come into existence? Big Bang? Seems even sillier. Aliens? Maybe. Sure would explain the pyramids.
    I am going to be awfully pissed if there is nothing. (joke).


  4. David Job says:

    Mr.McPherson , thank you for your work, but my days are bright, a perspective I will endeavour to maintain until my inevitable demise.
    Jez , on the delicate subject of suicide, a persons reasons for this are never so simple. To me, you’re comment demonstrates either an ignorance of the subject and/or a refusal to look deeply at your friends emotional state . I am sorry for your loss, but to dismiss the act as one motivated simply by selfishness does a disservice to us all .

  5. David York says:

    Hello Guy. For me it was mid-2004 when I came to the conclusion that not only were we “doomed”, but being born in 1951 I might live long enough to see our demise, as it were… My initial concern centered around Peak Oil, which would still be in play soon, if we get that far. AGW was always in the running, and it looks increasingly like that Horse of the Apocalypse may cross the finish line first, unless of course President Bannon manages to loose the nukes.
    I have adopted your strategy, too, I no longer care whether or not people understand this. And I will actively advise them to ignore the problem. I went through the five stages long ago. Nothing can be done, and even if there was a way to stop abrupt climate change at this point, we wouldn’t do it anyway, without massive injections of fossil fuels constantly our civilization collapses immediately anyway, and no more global dimming, etc… We’ll have to wait a little to see how much methane comes out of the arctic this summer when the ice cap all but vanishes. But even without that I expect to see temps approaching 110F in the breadbasket of the US, and that won’t help crop yields at all.
    Thanks for connecting the dots. I was constantly frustrated as I read about the various feedback loops being treated in isolation, nobody ever adding them up. I did in my head, and wondered what it all would mean, but then I found your calculations and conclusions. And despite everything they throw at you, I don’t see any facts that convince me. And some of the behavior lately from people I did trust (*cough Paul Beckwith cough*) is odd, and the USGS report is…puzzling. We will certainly know more soon. My plan is to enjoy myself flying model airplanes and drones until they take those away too. So there!

  6. Tom says:

    Hey Guy – good to finally get a chance to support and encourage you on your continuing journey. Thanks for writing, speaking and providing both your blog and radio show. I still follow your various and far-flung adventures [from the old NBL days] in bringing the message to ever-more mainstream outlets, influencing more people with the TRUTH – not to give in to despair, but to become, through the “enlightenment” of your climate change discussions, a more centered, directed and KIND human being on the way out. Thanks too for keeping up the Climate Change Essay (I still link to it while commenting on topics in many forums and blogs).

    Climate-change reality warrior is my new moniker for you. It’s probably impossible to “adjust” to hate mail and commentary (even Beckwith has gone off the rails – probably due to his new position at another university and being pressured to “back away” from the truth that he knows full-well), so your bravery and tenacity are evident (at least to me). You’re my inspiration.

    Keep on keepin’ on (til you can’t)!

    All the best, always

  7. Thank you, each of you, for your thoughtful and supportive comments.

  8. Thank you, Werner. Your comment completely aligns with my message.

  9. Anita Sullivan says:

    Dear Guy,
    My 42-year-old son and I spent a wonderful weekend hiking in Guadalupe National Park, White Sands Nat. Monument, and Carlsbad Caverns Nat. Park (you can hike above ground). The whole time we loved the silence and the beauty, but we carried on a continuous conversation articulating our heartbreak at how beautiful and complex is Earth, and how humans, somewhere between here and 200,000 years ago when sapiens finally became the dominant Homo, started down a path where, in a sense, we’re constantly doing everything wrong. It’s essential to take the long view to keep from going insane. Humans are a blip on the screen; we’re a tragedy because of our potential, our consciousness, our language, our humor — and yet we are just not panning out very well as an initial experiment. Nature is incredibly experimental, and I think maybe we are an experiment that ran amuck. I weep for that every day, yet there will be more and better experiments. Meanwhile, clarity, joy and the sheer raw exhilaration of being alive. Thanks!

  10. Jef says:

    Great comment Werner – I would add that being able to love is indeed key but it is nothing unless you are able to be loved which is often the harder of the two.

  11. John R Clarke says:

    When you gave your talk in Whangarei, some people left feeling depressed (they had not previously realised just how bad the situation is), some very angry (at how people should not be told the unvarnished truth), and at least two of those attending felt a great weight lift from their shoulders (and have remained in that space since). I am amazed that your words are so often misrepresented because in your Whangarei talk you went to great pains to share your journey, your reasons for concluding the reality of near term human extinction, and what you consider a sane response to it. In addition, you repeatedly clarified that you did not recommend giving up or suicide but rather, learning to live fully with love in your heart and meeting every moment as though the last. My only disappointment was not feeling able to host you all at our home as my wife finds any talk of abrupt climate change overwhelmingly depressing.

  12. I weep with you, Anita, even as I greatly appreciate Earth’s glorious bounty.

    Thanks for the affirmation, Jef. I appreciate you furthering the conversation.

    John, thank you for truly hearing me. I understand and appreciate your wife’s sentiments. Yours, too.

  13. Crius says:

    Come on everybody stop being so glum!
    Our ancestors will still be here!
    The Insects !

  14. Dr. Epiphany says:

    Thank you, dear Guy, for keeping on and on and on.
    I miss you and appreciate you and never ever forget you and your message of
    Only Love….
    Wishing you all the best of everything possible, love and laughter and open eyes.
    Sincerely, Your Friend and biggest Fan, Ariadne

  15. Thank you so much for your affirmative message, Ariadne, the Dr. (of) Epiphany. I await your visit in Belize.

  16. Feed Jake says:

    Careful, Guy. your wisdom is starting to show.
    Best Wishes.

  17. Sorry, Feed Jake. You caught me in the act. I’ve been successful at not letting it show so far.

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