In my upcoming book, OUTCRY, there is one chapter that features nine "big picture" scientists who have all stepped away from their narrow specialties to address what is happening to our environment and how it all relates to our future as a species.
Today, my list of of those nine rare scientists begins with the three who are deceased, followed by the other six from oldest to youngest. Jacques Cousteau, who passed away in 1997, is listed first.
Cousteau pictured here with JFK
Growing up in the fifties and sixties, I remember Cousteau primarily as a pioneering scuba diver. Later, I learned about the huge role he played in promoting global efforts to save the fragile biosphere that gives us life.
Ted Turner, who collaborated with Cousteau and made significant financial contributions to his work in the 80's and 90's, described his mentor, who he called "Captain," as:
The father of the
In the early 80's
, the men traveled to the Amazon aboard Cousteau's research ship,
. Late one evening, with just the two of them on deck, the scientist began to describe a number of troubling environmental trends that were rapidly getting worse - and if left unchecked, could spell the end of life on Earth as we know it.
Cousteau and Turner in Panama
After absorbing his mentor's disturbing conclusions, Turner responded to the great man, saying, "Captain, not only am I now depressed, but now I'm discouraged."
Cousteau responded with a statement similar to the one that I find myself uttering often these days - over thirty-five years later:
Ted, we cannot afford to get discouraged, even if we know the end is coming for certain, which we do not, what can men of good conscience do but keep trying to do the right thing until the very end?
Much of the Cousteau story that I write about today was gleaned from the excellent 2013 book by Todd Wilkinson, Last Stand.
If you'd like to review a lengthy excerpt describing
the closeness of their relationship,
Fast-forward ten years to October of 1993 at the National Theater in Washington, DC, where Turner and Cousteau were seated together for the premiere of the movie Gettysburg. During an unscheduled intermission due to equipment failure, the two men
got into a deep and sober discussion about the future of life on Earth. From Wilkinson's book
"Ted, you worry too much. My advice to you is to not let it get to you. Enjoy the time you have because it is already too late."
"We've passed the threshold. The beginning of the end has started. Man may, or may not be, part of the plan nature has for the Earth in the future. Life will be reborn, but first the world as we know it now will die."
Ted replies: "Captain, you are a great scientist; you've been a good friend who was always there for me, but isn't there a possibility, say, even a 3 to 5% chance that you are wrong? It may be a long shot, but that's what I am going to focus on. I'll take those odds. You know that I admire you, that I love you, but I can't accept what you're saying."
"I'm sorry, Ted, but I cannot agree," Cousteau responded. Although Turner was pleading for the great man to say that we still had a chance to save humanity, his "Captain" was unable to provide him the comfort he sought.
Calypso - former British Navy Minesweeper
For more info on Jacques Cousteau's life and legend, take a look at his obituary
Ironically, as I write this today,
the latest news from the Amazon
is that rainforest destruction has reached its highest rate in decades - twenty-two years after the death of this great environmentalist.
The other eight scientists on my list are as follows:
2. Dr. Frank Fenner
(Australia), the MD and scientist who led the massive global project to eradicate Smallpox. Shortly before his death in 2010 at the age of 95, he predicted that humanity would go extinct within 100 years. You can read about his conclusions in
His NY Times obituary
. Check out
his World Health book
4. Dr. James Lovelock
(UK) - age 100.
The truly "big picture" scientist who is famous for his GAIA Theory that the Earth is a
self-regulating "system" of which humans are a part. Lovelock also has serious doubts about our future as a species, concluding:
If the Earth improves as a result of our presence, then we will flourish. If it doesn't, then we will die off.
His 2015 book,
Rough Ride to the Future
does not suggest that we are
5. Dr. E.O. Wilson
(USA) - age 90.
Pulitzer Prize winning Harvard professor of biology who provided a plan for the survival of humanity in his 2017 book,
. He has concluded that
we have the skills and knowledge to avoid extinction, but that we probably won't - suggesting that our main problem is that we're an
6. Dr. T. Colin Campbell
(USA) - age 85. My good friend and colleague, the Cornell professor who connected the dots between what we eat, human disease and the survival of the biosphere that gives us life. Early in his 2014 book, Whole, he states: What we eat individually and collectively, has repercussions far beyond our waistlines and blood pressure readings. No less than our future as a species hangs in the balance.
7. Dr. Peter Wadhams
(UK) - age 71. Professor of Ocean Physics at the University of Cambridge and arguably the world's leading authority on the relationship between the melting of the Arctic Ocean and climate change. Check out his book, Farewell to Ice. Completely aware of the horrors that await us if climate change is not slowed soon, he states: Our only chance is to urgently begin removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
8. Dr. Guy McPherson
(USA) - age 59.
Professor Emeritus of Environmental Studies at the University of Arizona and arguably the best-informed scientist in the world when it comes to the linkage between climate change and the future of humanity. No one likes his conclusions about near-term human extinction, but who are we to say that he is wrong? For more information, check out this
recent SOS Memo
9. Dr. Stephen Emmott
(UK) - age 59.
For sixteen years, he was the Director of Computational Science at Microsoft. Based on the
global breadth of his work
, he is arguably the best-informed scientist in the world when it comes to predicting the future of humanity. Check out his powerful 2013 book,
in which the last four words speak volumes:
I think we're f_ _ _ _d!
Yes, he used the complete "F-word" to end his powerful book.
As for the above list, I was just getting to know Robert Goodland shortly before his death in 2013 and I do know the four youngest scientists on my list. All nine of them are featured in my next book - to be published in early 2020.
The Bottom Line. At the end of the day, I believe that our enjoyment of life, for whatever time we have remaining, is more fulfilling if we never stop searching for a way to save our species. It appears that most of the world's scientists agree, including all but one of the six living members on my list above.
PS: You may be wondering what you can do to help promote the never-ending search for a way to save our species. You can get me in front of some audiences that you think might be ready to hear about the long-overdue, global "conversation" about our survival.
As for speaking, I continue to search for mainstream audiences who may have an interest in learning more about a realistically hopeful vision for our future - and their role in making that vision come true.
As such, I will travel anywhere for an opportunity to speak to one or more groups in each city that I visit. I will create a custom presentation for each audience and I only ask for travel expense reimbursement and a modest honorarium.
In the months ahead, I will continue to focus on the urgent need for a totally reinvented greening of our civilization - beginning with a model in the USA that could be applied globally over the next fifty years.
My first blog on the crucial topic of totally reinventing our civilization was
posted 9-21-18 and
heads the list below. It was all about GRATOLA, an acronym that refers to the "green region" corridor running from Atlanta to Los Angeles.
Since then, I have posted more than forty additional pieces on that topic, including this one on 9-4-19 in which I introduced the GBN (Great Big Northern) - one 25-mile wide corridor along the USA's northernmost border that would theoretically be capable of sustainably housing ALL 300+ million Americans in an area the size of Oregon.
As always, I will continue to focus on this crucial topic - in my research, my writing and my speaking.
As for the specifics of my topic, I invite you to
contact me directly
about how I might tailor my presentation to best suit an audience you may have in mind:
churches, think-tanks, legislative bodies, environmental
organizations, alumni associations, leadership clubs, PTA's
and/or civic groups who may appreciate a message of reality and hope for our future.
What else can you do to help?
1. Live as greenly as possible while doing all that you can to raise the awareness of "big picture" solutions that are crucially necessary for saving our civilization.
2. Share this BSB and my
"Mama Ain't Happy"
BSB with prominent journalists, thought leaders and/or elected officials whom you respect. They need to learn a lot more about the many reasons why
Mama ain't happy.
3. Here are a few more GRATOLA-related blogs that you can share with your most powerful friends, leaders, journalists and movie producers.
Until next time, just remember...
Humanity is on a collision course with Nature.
A damaged Nature will survive. We may not.
We must change course to avert an ecological disaster.
This SOS Memo series was created by:
J. Morris (Jim) Hicks
CEO, 4Leaf Global, LLC
In the past 12 months, I have spoken at a
Fort Myers, at
in Honolulu and Kahului, Maui, the
College of the Holy Cross
in Worcester, MA, a
Plant Powered Manhattan
event in New York, at a lakeside health conference in
South Haven, Michigan
, in Buffalo, NY, at the
University of Scranton
and at the Dr.
Golden Gate Health Getaway
near the Silicon Valley.
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