There's more than a few folks feeling blue of late.
Trump, the earthquake(s), global economic woe and wild, windy weather have whipped up a late spring stew of sadness. For the eating of a powerlessness pie.
Powerlessness always succeeds where other emotions fail. It sets off a chain of sensations. None of them good.
Against that backdrop I was, along with many others, ripe for the picking when Guy McPherson sat down across from Paul Henry last week for an interview.
McPherson is professor emeritus of natural resources, ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona.
For some years, he has been warning of the near-term extinction of humanity due to climate change. He used to project it happening around 2030. Now he's emphatic about it happening within the next ten years.
I won't debate here whether he's right or wrong, but he's no easily written-off looney tune. He has sufficient credibility.
I will say that he speaks of things we already know to be true about climate change; food and water shortages, increased conflict over those resources, disease acceleration, mass migration, economic meltdown, dramatic sea level rise, increased forest fires and storms beyond anything we've ever imagined. These things add up to human extinction, and they are already happening.
The last IPCC report in 2014 was far from good news either. It speaks the same language as McPherson - just in a much more sanitised tone. The factual difference is the timeframe. They show modelling stretching a hundred years out. McPherson's modelling says we're toast, and soon.
The major game-changer is the sea ice in the Arctic, and snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere, disappearing at an alarming rate. On October 20, Arctic sea ice extent began to set new daily record lows for this time of year.
Researchers monitoring satellites and weather stations are openly saying that they're surprised, and shocked by air temperatures peaking at an unheard-of 20C higher than normal for the time of year. Also, sea temperatures are averaging nearly 4C higher than usual in October and November.
If climate change scientists on the ground are openly amazed, worried and scared, does the truth about human extinction lie somewhere in the middle?
Let's say it does. Let's say we're doomed as a species in another 50 years and, given the new information presenting itself every day, we must entertain it. None of which is helped by a global political response being either sluggish, glacial or non-existent.
If you accept the fact that it's all too little too late, and I emphatically do, then where to from here? If there is no hope, and technology won't save us in time, what now?
Many try to believe that politicians will soon see the error of their delays, act quickly on our behalf for the good of the planet, and all will be well.
Guy McPherson simply advises people to love those close to them, and be excellent at whatever it is you choose to do. Other than that, forget any form of hope. It's over.
I sat with all of that over the weekend. I sucked it up, felt it in my bones and gut, and had a couple of sleepless nights. It got to me in a way that I'd never experienced before.
Despite my best efforts, it rang true.
We've all buried family and friends who've died of long and protracted (and short and sharp) cancer. We know these things happen, and may also happen to us. Yet, it's one thing to receive a terminal diagnosis, imagine dying and life carrying on without you. It's quite another entirely to envisage humans dying en masse, in a collective global death spiral. That's hard to comprehend.
So, most of us don't. We breed, we stress about little and big stuff, worry about out property values, or not being able to afford a home in the first place, and carry on our merry human way. All of which is probably best.
Many try to believe that politicians will soon see the error of their delays, act quickly on our behalf for the good of the planet, and all will be well. Business helps the environment, neoliberalism will save the kea, and continued fossil fuel extraction is a necessary evil. Technology will ultimately save the day. Hurrah!
I've thought hard on what was emotionally so different about McPherson's short timeframe versus my unquestioning belief in a much longer one. Obviously, the longer timeframe means I'd get to live out my natural life.
I had never, for one second, consciously entertained the idea that human extinction was conceivable in the near term.
In other words, I'm basically okay with the sadness and anxiety about some far-off future generation seeing the collapse of humanity. Just not this one. My one.
Which tells me everything I didn't want to know about myself. I possess precisely the same procrastination, selfishness and denial that got us into this mess.
Turns out, I'm only human.