In July of 2019, six experienced educators and journalists began meeting monthly in Pasadena to discuss the rapidly impending and irreversible extinction of humans.
By Thom Hawkins
When we began at Throop UU Church, we thought our species had forty to fifty years left. None of us are scientists, but after months of reading, observation and discussion, we realized that no humans would be alive anywhere in fewer than twenty years–perhaps fewer than ten.
Mainstream science and conventional news outlets have struggled to stay abreast of the rapid changes. However, major publishers recently rushed in to fill the gap with a profusion of books, beginning with “The End of Ice” and “The Uninhabitable Earth,” as well as many articles, scientific reports and new websites.
One of the best places to find a summary of some of this reading is “Collapse 101” by Michael Dowd on You Tube. Dowd is at his bleakest in that video, but he also has a website called “Post Doom.” He wants us to move past “doom” and work our way through the “gloom” to make peace with the inevitable.
Graphic artist Ken Avidor faces the inevitable head-on with his You Tube video, “Mazz Alone,” which depicts our unavoidable near-term future.
And a few mainstream outlets are finally beginning to break their silence with some realistic climate change reporting, such as this from CBS News. “Extraordinary” rate of change as the Arctic warms, NOAA says:
The Arctic is living proof that major environmental change need not proceed gradually over generations.
As our group continued meeting until the pandemic shutdown, we addressed how we want to behave when flames lick our porches. Humans have daunting ethical choices bearing down on us, even as most ignore reality. The evolutionary biologist George C. Williams understood this predicament: “Most evolving lineages, human or otherwise, when threatened with extinction, don’t do anything special to avoid it.”
We also spent time talking about how we feel about humanity’s intractable self-destructiveness. These words from Catherine Ingram helped:
Despite our having caused so much destruction, it is important to also consider the wide spectrum of possibilities that make up a human life. Yes, on one end of that spectrum is greed, cruelty, and ignorance; on the other end is kindness, compassion, and wisdom. We are imbued with great creativity, brilliant communication, and extraordinary appreciation of and talent for music and other forms of art. We cry in tenderness when we are touched by love, beauty, or loss. We cry in empathy for others’ pain. Some of us even sacrifice our lives for strangers. There is no other known creature whose spectrum of consciousness is as wide and varied as our own.
Regular email and phone contact have allowed us to continue our discussions during the pandemic. When we started, we called ourselves The Species Extinction Wisdom Circle. As the climate emergency intensified, we changed our name to The Great Dying Roundtable. But we continue to fight for the earth, taking measures to reduce our impact. We do so because we love our mother, not because such efforts will save us. They won’t.
Charles Jacobsen and George Patton contributed to this article. Charles is a grandfather who taught high school for thirty-two years. George Patton has been a permaculture practitioner and educator for sixty years.
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