Upon starting to write my next book, OUTCRY, I began accumulating relevant quotes from my favorite "big picture" scientists - both living and deceased. Speaking of them, there is a group of nine that will provide many of the references for the book and I talk about all of them in my public presentations.
One of those nine is
, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author who turned 90 this year and is still publishing books. I was reading his 2016 book,
HALF-EARTH, Our Planet's Fight for Life
recently when I came across this quote about our current predicament on Earth - a quote that appears in the Prologue:
For the first time in history, a conviction has developed among those who can actually think more than a decade ahead that we are playing a global endgame. Humanity's grasp on the planet is not strong. It is growing weaker. Our population is too large for safety and comfort.
Fresh water is growing short, the atmosphere and the seas are increasingly polluted as a result of what has transpired on the land. The climate is changing in ways unfavorable to life, except for microbes, jellyfish, and fungi. For many species it is already fatal.
Sounds pretty grim, right? But like me, Wilson continues to think and write about a possible way out of the seemingly hopeless dilemma we have created for ourselves. Also, in the Prologue, he goes on to say:
In Half-Earth I propose that only by committing half of the planet's surface to nature can we hope to save the immensity of life-forms that compose it.
I am convinced that only by setting aside half the planet in reserve, or more, can we save the living part of the environment and achieve the stabilization required for our own survival.
In his book, Wilson says it may be hundreds of years before we can get our act together, but I like to think that if enough powerful leaders were to begin urgently engaging in a global conversation about the elephant in the room, climate change, that perhaps we can be back on the right track by 2100.
Notice that Dr. Wilson mentioned the word hope
in the second quote above. I take that usage as an indicator of positive thinking. But, as all scientists know, it takes more than
to change the world.
Definition time: Hope, Prayer and Pragmatism
A feeling of expectation or desire for a certain thing to happen
A solemn request for help or an expression of thanks addressed to God
An approach that assesses the truth of meaning of theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application.
With degrees in engineering and in business, I naturally take the
pragmatic approach to solving whatever problems or challenges I may encounter.
But I also appreciate the encouragement brought about by the hopes and prayers of others in an effort to help move the process along.
I guess you could say that taking a pragmatic approach to solving problems is my way of not giving up hope as it relates to our future as a species.
Another scientist in that group of nine.
After speaking at the same event in 2016 and communicating by phone and email since then, I met
Dr. Guy McPherson
in person last week in New York City. He invited me to join a small gathering of his friends who were treating him and Pauline to a little farewell event as they are moving to Florida later this month.
During the luncheon in Greenwich Village, I showed Guy the cover of my upcoming book, OUTCRY, pictured here, and he of course asked what I meant in the subtitle when I said "what we can do about" the mess that we're in.
He then challenged me on that one, saying that there is essentially
nothing we can do to save our civilization or our species.
I replied that I had not given up all hope and was simply striving to promote a
serious global "conversation"
about redesigning and implementing a totally new civilization that would be green enough to save our species.
In response, he immediately stated that I was talking about a fantasy; therefore impossible to implement.
I replied that he may be right but that I had not yet drawn that conclusion. I went on to explain how his work had helped me think more broadly and urgently with regards to my own pursuit of a sustainable solution to our civilization issues.
That's when I showed him the Guy McPherson PowerPoint slide, with information about him that I use in my public talks.
That information includes his impressive academic career as one of the youngest tenured professors in history of the University of Arizona and
his overall body of work
that includes some 55 peer-reviewed papers. I also reference a link to his 32,000- word,
"Climate Change" essay
with almost 800 references to the refereed journal literature. Yes, I counted them.
I then summarize with my conclusions about the credibility of Dr. McPherson and pose a question to my audience:
Given all of the above, I have concluded that Dr. Guy McPherson could possibly be the world's best-informed authority when it comes to the relationship between abrupt climate change and the accelerated extinction of all species, including human.
Therefore, who am I to say that he is wrong?
At the restaurant, Guy is on the left, "The Other Guy" is in the middle and Pauline is on the right.
As we continued to converse at the restaurant, I assured Guy that I was not there to challenge his conclusions but wanted him to understand why I must continue to pursue a sustainable future for humanity - adding that in my new book, I was writing for my eight grandchildren and indeed, for all the children of the world.
As for my grandchildren, I would hate for them to ever think that their GranBuddy had totally given up on their future - no matter how bleak things might appear. The oldest is
in college, the youngest is in diapers and the rest of them are in between - a total of four girls and four boys. Here is a 2016 photo of five of them, with the only collegian, so far, on the right:
Toward the end of our discussion, I asked Guy if he's still convinced that humanity will go extinct by 2026. He stated in the affirmative, saying that it could very well be sooner. Of course, that response is completely in line with his tagline:
On the edge of extinction, only love remains.
Finally, with a smile, a handshake and a farewell, I presented a copy of our
to Pauline and Guy - along with this signature:
On the edge of renewal...
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.
As I left to catch my train, I heard him say that he and Pauline are now writing a book on the topic of
I wish them well.
J. Morris (Jim) Hicks
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.