Monday, April 18, 2016


I think Twitter took me there, but in my office hour—during which, as per normal, a student failed to show up for an appointment—I ended up reading a little bit about the work of Guy McPherson, late of the University of Arizona, who has predicted for more than a decade that humans will be extinct by 2030, all of civilization having ended years before. The last few days have been unseasonably hot. Of course, the last few months and years have been, as well. So, the idea of abrupt climate change leading to massive changes doesn't seem all that implausible to me. 
I'm not that interested, though, in figuring out the science of his predictions. Instead, it got me thinking, as we always should be—and, as I take McPherson to think, since he believes we are well past the point of solving our problems—about whether this life is one that can be thought of as worth it. Of course, if I knew that all of humanity had no more than 14 more years at best, I would radically change my life; but, in that case it would be because I'd not be sure that there was much point in anything at all. Maybe there would be a point, but that point would have to be entirely present-oriented. Even assuming that humanity will make it, am I living a life that is worth it, or a life that, were I to die in 14 years, I could look back on and think, "That was a pretty good one?" If not, why not?

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