The Other McCain

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Guy McPherson’s Climate-Change Doomsday Cult: ‘Near Term Extinction’

Posted on | January 4, 2018 | 3 Comments

 

In August 2007, University of Arizona Professor Guy McPherson gave the keynote address for the university’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program: “The End of Civilization and the Extinction of Humanity.” The basis of Professor McPherson’s doomsday vision then was “peak oil”:

Because this country mainlines cheap oil, it is easy to envision the complete collapse of the U.S. economy within a decade. The Great Depression will seem like the good old days when unemployment approaches 100% and inflation is running at 1000% per year. Obviously, this is a very good thing . . . for the world’s cultures and species, other than our own. After all, in the name of economic growth we have ripped minerals from the Earth, often bringing down mountains in the process; we have harvested nearly all the old-growth timber on the continent, replacing thousand-year-old giants with neatly ordered plantations of tiny trees; we have hunted species to the point of extinction; we have driven livestock across every almost acre of the continent, baring hillsides and engendering massive erosion; we have plowed large landscapes, transforming fertile soil into sterile, lifeless dirt; we have burned ecosystems and, perhaps more importantly, we have extinguished naturally occurring fires; we have spewed pollution and dumped garbage, thereby dirtying our air, fouling our water, and contributing greatly to the warming of the planet; we have paved thousands of acres to facilitate our movement and, in the process, have disrupted the movements of thousands of species.

At the time he gave that speech, the average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.77. Currently, it’s $2.52 a gallon. So “the complete collapse of the U.S. economy . . . when unemployment approaches 100% and inflation is running at 1000% per year”?

It didn’t happen. The professor was wrong. “Peak oil” was a myth.

Undeterred by his failed prophecy, however, Professor McPherson continued preaching the imminent apocalypse, and in 2009 retired from the university to become a full-time secular evangelist of a doomsday scenario: “Near term human extinction” via “abrupt climate change.” He has spent years promoting this vision on his “Nature Bats Last” blog, in media appearances, and in public speeches.

Guy McPherson’s Twitter (left); the cloud-tag at his blog (right).

Ask yourself: What inspired Professor McPherson’s pessimism? It’s difficult to avoid the answer: Politics. Scanning the opening paragraphs of his 2011 book, Walking Away From Empire:

During the decade of my forties, I transformed my academic life from mainstream ecologist to friend of the earth. . . . My guest commentaries in local newspapers pointed out the absurdities of American life, as well as limits to growth for the world’s industrial economy. My increasingly strident essays drew the attention of university administrators who tried to fire me, and, when that failed, tried to muzzle me. But they found both routes too difficult to impinge upon a tenured full professor. Shortly after they gave up trying to force my departure, I left the institution on my own terms in dismay and disgust.

Professor McPherson evidently had a bad case of “Bush Derangement Syndrome,” which was widespread in left-leaning academia during the first decade of this century. The five-week recount in Florida and the Supreme Court’s Bush v. Gore decision that ended the 2000 election led Democrats to claim that Bush’s presidency was illegitimate. Then came 9/11 and the subsequent war in Iraq, and the deranged rhetoric of Bush-haters escalated to paranoia-inducing intensity. Professor McPherson’s “increasingly strident essays” were symptomatic of this tendency. His decision to quit the university in 2009 — to retire at age 49, despite the tenure protections that could have kept him employed another 20 years — was arguably irrational. The political inspiration of his madness was apparent in Professor McPherson’s 2011 book:

Support the troops. It’s the rallying cry of an entire nation. It’s the slogan pasted on half the bumpers in the country.
Supporting the troops is pledging your support for the empire. . . . Supporting the troops supports the ongoing destruction of the living planet in the name of economic growth. Supporting the troops therefore hastens our extinction in exchange for a few dollars.

Thus did the anti-American/anti-war protest mentality circa 2007 combine with environmental extremism to produce what became Professor McPherson’s next prophetic scenario — an “abrupt” shift in Earth’s climate that will bring about human extinction by 2030. Was that date randomly selected? Is there any actual scientific reason to believe we are on the brink of an environmental cataclysm? No. Even other promoters of climate-change theory dispute Professor McPherson’s claims. You can read Michael Tobis’s lengthy and detailed refutation of Professor McPherson’s “abrupt climate change” scenario here. Tobis is among those who believe that Professor McPherson’s alarmist prophecies threaten to discredit “mainstream” climate-change concerns. However, Professor McPherson’s claims that we have already passed the point of no return, that so-called ecosystem “feedbacks” will have an exponential impact, producing a rapid increase in global temperatures, is plausible to those for whom radical environmentalism is a sort of secular religion.

Most environmentalists are not scientific experts, after all, and it is their lack of skepticism that made them such fanatical converts to the cause. Environmentalists are, almost by definition, the type of person Eric Hoffer described as The True Believer.

Fallout From ‘The Population Bomb’

For reasons that might not be obviously apparent, Professor McPherson’s doomsday scenario was embraced by those radical feminists who reject heterosexuality, per se, claiming that women’s “sex role as f–kholes, breeders and slaves has been forced on us by men.” This connection between feminism and environmental extremism can be understood only through a careful study of the historical context within which the modern feminist movement arose in the 1960s. As historian Donald Critchlow explained in Intended Consequences: Birth Control, Abortion, and the Federal Government in Modern America, the legalization of abortion in America was a goal promoted by crypto-eugenic advocates of population control. Far from being about “women’s rights,” the pro-abortion movement was funded through tax-exempt foundations controlled by wealthy men who feared “overpopulation” as a threat to their elitist vision for the future. The same people who funded Alfred Kinsey’s bizarre sex “research” also funded the development of hormonal contraception (“The Pill”) and, in the 1960s, supported doomsday prophet Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb. Ehrlich’s false forecast of worldwide famine as a result of “overpopulation” was a major argument used to justify the legalization of abortion as an urgent necessity. Because this history is unknown to most people, including the unskeptical followers of the feminist and environmentalist movements, there is almost no critical attention focused on the basic question: Is “overpopulation” really a problem? And, if we are willing to consider the arguments of those who contend that “overpopulation” is a myth, what are the real motives of those who have spent decades promoting doomsday scenarios?

Speculation about the motives behind the population-control agenda can easily give rise to paranoid conspiracy theories. The most plausible explanation, I believe, is that the First World War and its aftermath (including the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia) were interpreted by certain wealthy and influential men as evidence of a threat to their wealth and influence. Some advocates of this view were frankly racist.

 

Far be it from me, educated at a mere state university in Alabama, to stand in judgment of a Harvard man like Lothrop Stoddard, but my point is that the pessimistic “scientific” views of Stoddard, which were embraced by such population-control fanatics as John D. Rockefeller III, explain many otherwise inexplicable attitudes of the wealthy elite. There was a time, in the early 20th century, when the New England elite and the heirs of America’s industrial fortunes believed that scientific progress guaranteed a brighter future that posed no threat to their own political influence and social prestige. That optimistic vision was a collateral casualty, so to speak, of the pistol shot by which Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. If the act of a crackpot Serbian nationalist could trigger such catastrophic consequences, wasn’t the New England elite’s faith in its own social and political hegemony a dangerous illusion? The psychic shock of World War I, compounded not many years later by the Great Depression, was what led these wealthy men to endorse a crypto-eugenic agenda in the disguise of liberal “philanthropy.” This was the origin of the population control movement which, by the 1970s, gave rise both to radical environmentalism and the “pro choice” argument for abortion.

Most people aren’t familiar with that history, and thus are not skeptical toward the motives of climate-change doomsday prophets. While it is unfair to use guilt-by-association tactics to accuse environmentalists of racism, their failure to study their own movement’s history calls into question the validity of their claims to “science.” How can they justify their fear-mongering over carbon emissions as “scientific,” without acknowledging their debt to the “scientific” claims of Stoddard? And if we can point out that Paul Ehrlich’s “scientific” doomsday prophecies were wrong, why won’t today’s climate-change prophets admit the possibility that their own doomsday theories are mistaken? But I digress . . .

Guy McPherson pushed the doomsday prophecy act beyond any plausible claim to “science,” but guess what? His fear-mongering theory of “near term human extinction” made him quite popular among environmental extremists. In 2013, he published a book called Going Dark:

We are the last individuals of our species on Earth. How shall we respond? How shall we act? If industrial civilization is maintained, climate change will cause human extinction in the near term. If industrial civilization falls, sufficient ionizing radiation will be released from the world’s nuclear power plants to cause human extinction in the near term. In the wake of this horrific conclusion, conservation biologist Guy McPherson proposes we act with compassion, courage, and creativity. He suggests we act with the kind of empathy for which humans are renowned. In other words, he suggests we act with decency toward the humans and other organisms with which we share this beautiful planet.

Here, Professor McPherson offered an ethos of extinction. This was not science at all, but rather an attempt to create a system of moral or spiritual values from the alleged fact of impending doom — a “green” religion of which Professor McPherson was the de facto Pope. He declares himself to be “the world’s leading authority on the topic of abrupt climate change leading to near-term human extinction,” which is to say he is an expert in his own crackpot beliefs. Yet the self-evidently bogus nature of his “authority” did not undermine his popularity.

One of Professor McPherson’s acolytes, Pauline Schneider, turned his Going Dark book into a 30-minute documentary video, with clips of his presentation at an “Age of Limits” conference organized by the neo-pagan Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary. Professor McPherson and Schneider have since established Stardust Sanctuary Farm in Belize: “Here in the heart of Central America, you can come to restore yourself and reconnect with nature and the natural rhythms of life.” One of their services is workshops to help people “come to grips with near-term human extinction.” And this environmental extremist doomsday cult continued to garner media publicity for Professor McPherson. He was featured, for example, in a 2015 article at Vice:

These days, McPherson says he works to help people learn how to “spend our precious few breaths on this planet doing work we love, pursuing love, and excellence in our lives,” which he thinks are lessons we should take to heart whether or not he’s wrong about the coming apocalypse — which he predicts could come as early as October.

Well, that didn’t happen, did it? But the continuing non-fulfillment of his apocalyptic prophecies didn’t prevent Professor McPherson from being interviewed in “Conversations With Great Minds” on the RT network, and featured in a Bill Nye program on the National Geographic cable network. If you check the “media” page at Professor McPherson’s blog, you see that he is in constant demand for appearances on public-radio programs and various podcasts devoted to environmentalism.

‘Sexually Predatory Behavior’

Professor McPherson is something of a celebrity in the doomsday fringe, and it was therefore newsworthy when, last year, a 25-year-old Australian woman said she had been a target of his attentions:

In late August 2017 information surfaced in regard to an online relationship between McPherson and a twenty five year old woman who, in a professed state of emotional vulnerability, had in her words, sought McPherson out as a kind of mentor. The online relationship they established was perfectly legal and consensual, but the nature of the relationship, revealed in widely shared screen shots and commentary posted by this young woman as well as in McPherson’s own responses to these screenshots, demonstrated that McPherson, in presenting a false image of being opposed to patriarchy and misogyny, was perfectly willing to participate in fantasies of a degrading and dominating nature toward women. . . .

The screenshots are at the link, and I’ll spare you the details, but they were offensive enough to cause the far-left group Deep Green Resistance to end its association with Professor McPherson:

We learned recently that Guy McPherson, with whom DGR has collaborated in the past, has been accused by multiple women of sexually predatory behavior. We have seen screenshots of comments where he calls women vile names (e.g., he calls one woman a “cum-gargling whore”). These accusations have been corroborated from several sources.
At the time we collaborated with Guy McPherson, we had no idea that he was treating women so poorly. Deep Green Resistance has an absolute zero-tolerance policy for abuse and will stand against any predators being allowed access to the movement or anyone who could be harmed. Our hearts go out to his victims.

Notice the plural — “his victims“? It is claimed that more than one woman was subjected to Professor McPherson’s “predatory behavior,” but I’m not familiar enough with the allegations to say more than that.

It is not an ad hominem argument to suggest that Professor McPherson’s alleged sexual misconduct is related to his doomsday theory. Consider this testimonial from a participant in one of his workshops:

“Knowing what is happening to us as a species and all other life on Earth can lead us to live what McPherson calls Lives of Excellence right here and right now. It is this message more than any other, that can lead to a sense of liberation from the drudgery and stress of life in industrial civilization and from what we thought we were ‘supposed to be and do’. And with that freedom, we can choose to live the lives that we want to live, to be honest with ourselves and with one another, and to be the very best that we can be.”

This is just a rehash of 1960s hippie slogans: “Tune in, turn on, drop out.” “Make love, not war.” “If it feels good, do it.” Believing that the Vietnam War had discredited the Judeo-Christian values of American society, the hippies rejected any moral restraint on their hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. The 1967 “Summer of Love” and the so-called “Woodstock Nation” were the manifestations of this youth counterculture, but the giddy peace-and-love optimism of the ’60s soon collapsed into despair, chaos and violence. The Manson cult, the Weather Underground, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Jonestown Massacre — the pursuit of “liberation” always seems to follow a tragic pattern.

 

It would be unfair to compare Guy McPherson to Charles Manson or Jim Jones, but the historic motif of doomsday cults is apparent in the career of this prophet of climate-change apocalypse. Is there any essential difference between Manson’s “Helter Skelter” fantasy of a worldwide race war and Professor McPherson’s prophecy of “The End of Civilization and the Extinction of Humanity”? Their eschatologies differ in details, as to the causes and mechanism of destruction, but the basic message is the same: Imminent doom for mankind. Manson’s apocalyptic vision was the result of taking LSD and listening to a Beatles album, while Professor McPherson’s was inspired by “scientific” interpretations of rising carbon emissions, but in the end it’s all the same: We’re doomed!

Why do people keep falling for these doomsday scammers? If we had access to psychiatric profiles of apocalyptic cult followers, what traits — other than stupidity — would we find they shared in common? While I don’t claim to have any special insight on this subject, let’s take a look at the biography of Professor McPherson’s colleague:

Pauline Schneider, nee Panagiotou, was born in Nigeria and moved to Flushing Queens as a toddler, then back to Nigeria for only two years until her family was forced to leave due to the Biafra war. She was then raised in Greece until the age of 15, by which time she was fluent in Greek. At the age of 15 she moved to Texas with her parents and three younger siblings. She received her Associate Applied Science degree in Radio/TV Production, and moved to Los Angeles where she met her future husband and father of her three children while working at Dream Quest. They raised their family in New York where she studied art and film at the Purchase campus of the State University of New York (SUNY Purchase). She received her Bachelors degree in Sociology and Anthropology, Magna Cum Laude at Pace University and went on to receive her Master of Education in Social Studies with a focus on Special Education and Visual Arts, with honors.
Always interested in social justice and in protecting the environment as the home for human and non-human children, Pauline has been an activist for several decades. From 2011 to 2014 she was a core, organizing member of Transition Westchester Hub. In 2014 she completed her first feature documentary, Going Dark, a 30-minute film based on the work of Dr. Guy R. McPherson who lectures about abrupt climate change and near-term human extinction. In 1993 Pauline helped create a 10-minute documentary film, Kate VS the Incinerator, in a film course at SUNY Purchase. The 4 minute film was based on a local battle to prevent the Department of Environmental Conservation from installing a toxic waste incinerator on the Hudson River.
An avid gardener, in 2005 Pauline received certification from the New York Botanical Gardens in Landscape Design and is co-founder of Garden Sitters. She also is a certified facilitator in Alternatives to Violence Project, a certified specialist in the Grief Recovery Method, and she holds New York state education certifications in Visual Arts, Social Studies, and Special Education.

Do you notice something about that biography? What stands out to me is that Ms. Schneider never seems to have been engaged in any kind of ordinary work in the competitive profit-oriented private sector. She’s gotten a series of college degrees over the years, and “has been an activist for several decades,” during which she apparently never had to worry about how to pay the bills. She’s certified in variety of things — landscape design, violence prevention, grief recovery, etc. — but as for working a regular job? No, there’s nothing on Ms. Schneider’s resumé to indicate experience in any endeavor where considerations of revenue, expenses, and productivity were crucial. Despite her numerous degrees, Ms. Schneider probably has less understanding of basic profit/loss calculations than an assistant manager at Burger King.

However, extensive business experience doesn’t necessarily inoculate people against doomsday cults. For example, cable TV mogul Ted Turner is a fanatical follower of the population-control movement, which was given impetus in the 1950s by another business tycoon, Hugh Moore, founder of the Dixie Cup company, who once declared:

“It appeared to me that any political or economic question was going to be compounded as the population skyrocketed and that the subject was being almost completely neglected by political scientists and governments.”

Rich men worried about “overpopulation” — a familiar theme, demonstrating that success in one field doesn’t automatically make you an expert in whatever other field might attract your interest. A certain hubris is evident in these people, who never seem to second-guess themselves. When the neo-Malthusian “overpopulation” scare mostly subsided after the 1970s, the doomsayers simply switched tactics to make carbon emissions the bogeyman of their nightmare prophecy.

 

Al Gore was prominent among those proclaiming the end was near:

In January, 2006 — when promoting his Oscar-winning (yes, Oscar-winning) documentary, An Inconvenient Truth — Gore declared that unless we took “drastic measures” to reduce greenhouse gasses, the world would reach a “point of no return” in a mere ten years. He called it a “true planetary emergency.” . . .
Gore’s prediction fits right in with the rest of his comrades in the wild-eyed environmentalist movement. There’s a veritable online cottage industry cataloguing hysterical, failed predictions of environmentalist catastrophe. . . .

In 2008, a segment on ABC’s Good Morning America envisioned the impending cataclysm: “Manhattan shrinking against the onslaught of the rising seas . . . Gasoline was supposed to be $9 per gallon. Milk would cost almost $13 per gallon.” That disaster scenario was forecast to occur by 2015, i.e., three years ago, and last time I checked, milk wasn’t $13 a gallon, nor had the “rising seas” swamped Manhattan.

‘A State of Anxiety, Uncertainty, and Despair’

The global-warming doomsday hasn’t arrived yet, and the prophets of this cult have been crying “wolf” for so long that they have no one to blame but themselves for their declining credibility. Do I understand all that stuff about arctic ice and methane gas? No, I’ve never claimed to be an environmental expert, but I do recognize the aroma of bovine excrement, and climate-change “science” reeks of that smell.

A statement from some of Professor McPherson’s former comrades, condemning his alleged sexual misconduct, makes an interesting point:

As a recognized authority in the field of climate science, this person’s words contain the weight of authority for many. His carefully worded prognostications of a coming end of human existence on the planet . . . have the ability to produce a state of anxiety, uncertainty, and despair in those who accept his perspective. This person acknowledges this on his website, stating that “Because the topics of his presentations sometimes induce despair, Guy became a certified grief-recovery specialist in January 2014.”
The combination of his pursuits, as a climate scientist predicting the end of life as we know it, and grief counselor, puts him in the unique role of both producing or exacerbating the effect of anxiety or despair in an individual, as well as creating the context through which that despair is then addressed. His audience, of which we have been a part, consists of individuals often marginalized by our larger society that ignores the very real warnings of catastrophic climate change. The views shared by many in our numerous and varied Near Term Human Extinction (NTHE) groups have produced not simply a sense of despair about the future, but also a sense of isolation from our immediate communities and families. Solace is then sought out within the NTHE community, under the banner of this person’s scientific findings.
While in many ways natural responses warranted by our current situation, this combination of despair, confusion, and isolation, none the less set up the potential for the exploitation of those who acutely feel the desperation and disorientation of abrupt climate change, and have nowhere else to turn for answers.
This person is in a position of authority with direct influence over the mental, emotional, and in some cases physical and monetary lives, of those who exist in a state of vulnerability. This is a state which he has helped to facilitate and of which he profits from in his personal life. To then use that position, as this person has done, to engage in sexualized relations with women by way of administering a self-serving “healing” to individuals who are going such traumatic personal experiences, is a violation of ethical boundaries.

To say the least. What kind of pick-up artist uses a line like that? “Baby, the world is coming to an end, let me give you some ‘healing’ sex. And also call you a ‘cum-gargling whore.’ Because . . . science!”

 

You might be surprised (but probably not) to learn that Professor McPherson’s response to these allegations was a lawsuit threat:

I seek your support as I pursue justice. Specifically, I am pursuing legal action against people who have libeled me.
I’ve been assailed with defamation, character assassination, libel, and slander for nearly two decades. It’s ratcheting up. Based upon tidbits of online discussion taken out of context, articles have been written accusing me of terrible acts. In every case, I’ve shared accurate information with the authors of the hit pieces before they were made public. The information I provided was unethically ignored.
There’s no money in extinction, but there is plenty of power to be garnered by defaming, libeling, and slandering me. I know no way to stop unethical or illegal acts without legal action.

That’s from his GoFundMe appeal, where he’s raised about $3,400 of an announced $70,000 goal to fund a lawsuit. He’s a victim, you see — persecuted with “tidbits of online discussion taken out of context,” but what sort of context could justify the phrase “cum-gargling whore”? Really, go look at the screenshots for yourself, and make your own judgment. And if Professor McPherson thinks he can frighten me by having his lawyers send me a cease-and-desist letter, he’s crazy — but that’s already more or less self-evident, isn’t it?

Buddy, I’ve been sued before, and you can’t out-crazy Stacy McCain.



 

 

 

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