There is Always an Answer

Guy McPherson

“We have few opportunities to positively influence the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mass Extinction Event, and abrupt, irreversible climate change. None of these opportunities, even if pursued with rigorous passion by each of us, will allow us to avoid the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing Mass Extinction Event, and abrupt, irreversible climate change. However, we have daily opportunities to improve the lives of the people around us, notably including our family and friends. Perhaps we can henceforth apply our focus where it matters, rather than where it does not.”—Dr. Guy McPherson

Going Dark

By Dr. Guy McPherson

“Witches' Sabbath (The Great He-Goat),” by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1821-1823).

“Witches Sabbath (The Great He-Goat),” by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1821-1823).

“This life takes a lot more courage than I ever gave it credit for. When I was growing up around here, I was always fantasizing heroic shit without realizing that what was shaping up was going to be the greatest heroic adventure of them all: trying to live and be a decent human being. That shit takes more courage than I ever had.”—Junot Díaz

“It’s never the changes we want that change everything.”―Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Guy McPherson

MAITLAND Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—1 June 2020— “There is always an answer.” I heard it growing up. I hear it still. Every problem, no matter how thorny, has a solution. If we apply enough knowledge, creativity, and hard work, we can do anything. 

This idea is false, of course. Some challenges cannot be overcome. The cost, monetary and otherwise, is too great to solve some problems. No expenditure of money will preserve human life without air, water, and food. No expenditure of money or cleverness will undo thousands of years of adding too many people to an overpopulated planet. Every proposed solution must adhere to the Laws of Thermodynamics. In short, the self-proclaimed wise ape known as Homo sapiens is among the other animals on Earth constrained by physical laws. Consider, for example, the various means by which humans can go extinct, notably including the McPherson Paradox: increasing industrial activity warms the planet, and decreasing industrial activity warms it even faster.

I had a mentor when I began my tenure-track career at the University of Arizona. Pete gently informed me about unstated expectations while encouraging my creativity. A knee-jerk skeptic in the best of all possible ways, Pete accepts virtually nothing at first glance. He remains an academic scholar after more than 86 years into a life lived well.

Pete was, and is, an engineer. Problem-solving is his forte. First, though, he was a forester. He still is, and his relevant background contributes to his desire to implement environmental protections.

When I was spending my days on campus, I was impressed by Pete’s never-ending approach to solving problems. I will long remember his propensity for analyzing equations during meetings and seminars. Based on my short history attending faculty meetings at which Pete was quietly studying calculus, solving mathematical problems is certainly a wise use of time. Taking a page from Pete’s playbook, I rarely attended faculty meetings after I earned tenure.

Pete “fit in” quite well. A generation younger than Pete, I expended little effort at “going along to get along” with the people “above” me on the organizational chart. Not surprisingly, my career was shorter than that of my friend and mentor.

My professorial career lasted only 21 years as a result of my radicalism. As with most other contemporary institutions, colleges and universities tend toward societal norms. Radical approaches —going to the root of issues—are not always welcome. My propensity for pointing out the disadvantages of civilization were discouraged on campus. More recently, in light of my increased understanding of the full impact of the aerosol masking effect, I have been proclaiming the advantages of industrial civilization. Such was not the case while I was on campus, however.

The aerosol masking effect is a major component of abrupt, irreversible climate change. The aerosol masking effect explains why simply reducing industrial activity will not improve the climate-change situation. Instead, reducing industrial activity will quickly accelerate the overheating of Earth. As a result, we face a “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” predicament.

Because of the predicament we face, there is no societal “answer” to climate change. Electric cars will not solve this issue. Neither will solar panels and wind turbines. In other words, responses to abrupt, irreversible climate change can be found only within each of us. How we respond to abrupt, irreversible climate change, along with the ongoing pandemic and the ongoing Mass Extinction Event, is personal. We have few opportunities to positively influence the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mass Extinction Event, and abrupt, irreversible climate change. None of these opportunities, even if pursued with rigorous passion by each of us, will allow us to avoid the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing Mass Extinction Event, and abrupt, irreversible climate change. However, we have daily opportunities to improve the lives of the people around us, notably including our family and friends. Perhaps we can henceforth apply our focus where it matters, rather than where it does not. 

As I have pointed out repeatedly in this space, we might have control over our own actions, and that’s about the extent of our ability to control anything. As Dominican-American writer and MIT creative writing professor Junot Díaz points out, “the only way out is in.” My own spin on this idea: At the edge of extinction, only love remains.

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

Only Love Remains: Dancing at the Edge of Extinction by Guy R. McPherson

Paperback.

Only Love Remains: Dancing at the Edge of Extinction Kindle Edition, by Guy McPherson.

Kindle Edition.

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 amazon.com.
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10 Responses to There is Always an Answer

  1. Avatar David Emery says:

    As always, thank you for your work, Dr. McPherson! I wish you the best in your days upon this spectacular and mysterious home of ours, Earth.

  2. Avatar Guy R McPherson says:

    Thank you, David Emery. You’ve ensured my day is off to a fine start.

  3. Avatar Amira says:

    Hi Guy,
    So glad you have this platform, too
    And that you disabled comments on YouTube, yipeee

    I keep going deeper and deeper into the present moment.

    The gift of the present, indeed

    Happy, peaceful, loveful present moment.

  4. Avatar Guy R McPherson says:

    Thank you, Amira. I appreciate your comment, and it’s affirmative tone.

  5. Avatar Patrick says:

    My spin on your spin.

    Find a new beginning, at the end.

    Thanks again, Dr.

  6. Avatar Paul W says:

    This morning I was writing a biophysics piece – “Reverb Eternale, a DNA Housekeeping Primer ”
    aka “The only way out is IN”. DNA is like the “wardrobe door” of C.S.Lewis.
    No Faculty Meetings here in www.universite.terre

  7. Avatar Guy R McPherson says:

    That’s a lot of spinning, Patrick. Looks like we’re spinning into the end.

  8. Avatar Guy R McPherson says:

    Thank you, Paul W. I look forward to seeing your writing about housekeeping and DNA.

  9. Avatar judy pearce says:

    I am sometimes so overwhelmed with a sense of futility. I needed to hear what you just said. Thank you.

  10. Avatar Guy R McPherson says:

    I know how you feel, Judy Pearce. I’m glad you found this essay helpful.

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