Facing extinction, from a beloved nephew

Good evening dear uncle,

Hope you are well. For the last few years Skye and I have been understanding and coming to terms with:

i) Western civilisation, and
ii) Its ecocidal and generally anti-life agenda, and
iii) Death and extinction.

When we — by some grace — drop into the deep-time perspective or the ‘absolute view’, there is letting go and rest and acceptance. More often, however, we are entangled in the tinny badlands of this relative existence, and as human animals we regularly feel degrees of grief, fear, confusion, despair, hopelessness — all of which I believe is utterly natural given the circumstances.

We are continuing to deepen our research and understanding of all of this, and a key part of this is climate change. I’d be grateful if you would share some of your writing on the subject, particularly any ‘big picture’ analyses of the global climate system and its possible trajectories. We already have a reasonable understanding of the topic, but are always seeking to deepen it. If your answer is merely ‘we’re fucked and social collapse is imminent and probably no complex life will exist for at least another few hundred thousand years on this planet [if ever again] as a result of our mischief’ — then that’s okay. And if you want to share any rays of sunshine, then that’s okay too [please note: this email is not a covert way of asking you to reassure us things will be okay].

In talking with people about this topic, we’ve encountered some interesting responses (generally varying expressions of denial), including the email below from a good friend of ours. I’d be curious to get your views on the analysis in the Youtube video he shared…

Helmand and Skye, my dear young friends,

You and I are in exact agreement. This is also how I feel. When I manage to use my Buddhist tools, which I suspect is similar to your tools for staying sane, I am OK. But when I see a lovely little child, or read of another example of insane violence or environmental catastrophe, it’s very difficult.

So, quite a bit of the time, I am in advance grieving mode.

This colours everything I do, including all my writing, and my activity at my blog. There, you will find a link near the top, “If you are in despair about the state of our world…” that leads to a couple of resources.

My essay, “How to change the world” is now 20 years old, but more relevant than ever.

“Ascending Spiral” is actually my life (lives) story, and is relevant. In particular, it shows to me that there is purpose and meaning to everything, and that the end of complex life on earth is not the end of complex life. I have reproduced the last 1500 words at the blog. It refers to earlier events in the book, but makes sense by itself. I am happy to email you a review copy of the book.

But perhaps the best resource I can offer to you is my new book, published 2nd February: “From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide.” The issue of environmental despair is central to it, although that’s not obvious. In there, you will find an explanation for denial, and my way of coping. I am happy to email you a copy of this book as well.

About your friend: I haven’t yet seen the video in his link, but even without having done so I know it’s not going to change my mind. He writes, “an entire section of climate change science that is completely missing from the debate, and it basically debunks climate change science as junk science until it is included.” I personally know several climate scientists, and they are not idiots. I can guarantee that people who form part of IPCC, and perform climate research, know everything I’ll find on that video. Here is an essay I wrote in 2016 about one of the causal factors denialists tend to focus on: Sunspot activity and climate.

Again, I haven’t yet seen that video, but I am confident the same is true for other factors it discusses.

Finally, your email to me is deep, well worded and intelligent. May I reproduce our exchange in the next issue of my newsletter, or as a blog post? I can keep your names in or out, at your choice.

With lots of love,


About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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