Near-Term Human Extincton: Making the Case

Let me ask you: Do you have days when you feel we are doomed as a species? That's every day, for our next guest.

When a successful Professor of Natural Resources, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology left the University of Arizona, for his mud hut retreat, he probably didn't intend to stir up the world. But that's just what Guy McPherson has done. He's becoming a voice for the worst fears of many people. In fact, McPherson says climate change has gone so far, so fast, humans will become extinct before 2050.

Dr. McPherson makes his case, and offers ways to cope with the ultimate bad news, in a new book co-authored with psychologist Carolyn Baker. It's called "Extinction Dialogs: Living with Death in Mind". That's coming out this Fall.

Eventual human extinction may not be as impossible as it sounds. In addition to James Lovelock, two of the world's top scientists, Professor John Schullnhuber in Germany, and Dr. James Hansen, formerly of NASA, have worried we'll blow past any survivable limits to climate change. In a speech to the "4 Degrees of More" conference in Australia, Schullnhuber suggested that if we reach 4 degrees, the whole thing could easily slide to 8 degrees, which most of us would agree is beyond human tolerance. Hansen wondered if we might blow off the atmosphere altogether, as apparently happend on Mars. That possibility has since been discounted by other scientists.

Most of the big name scientists, other than James Lovelock, hedge their warnings with the idea that we could still save ourselves IF we mount a huge campaign to switch energy to renewable sources, and stop our carbon-wasting ways. Guy says it's too late for all that. We have already committed the Earth to a severe shift in climate, beyond the survival limits of not just our civilization, but of our species.

Let's find out why Guy McPherson thinks we are finished.

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Next week's program takes the other case, with voices who discount the possibility of humans going extinct.