Seeking Teachable Moments is the subtitle to my 2006 book, Letters to a Young Academic. The subtitle reflects my approach for more than 20 years in the classroom. It’s still my approach, a decade after publication of the book and several years after my departure from regular appearances in classrooms.
I tried the “teachable moment” approach in this space recently. Apparently it works better when we are able to see each other. Body language matters. Ditto for nuance. Readers cannot see the former, and many cannot detect the latter.
As I’ve mentioned repeatedly in this space, I predict humans will be extinct by 2030. Not some of them, but all of them. Extinction means all humans will be gone from Earth.
As I’ve mentioned repeatedly in this space, I made this prediction in 2002. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly in this space, I discovered the concept of global peak oil about a year after my initial prediction. As that time, I thought collapse of civilization induced by a global decline in petroleum and its distillates would lengthen our run as a species. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly in this space, I gave up on that notion in June 2009.
As I’ve mentioned repeatedly in this space, too many self-reinforcing feedback loops have been triggered to allow human actions to overcome lack of habitat induced by climate change. I predict, in language so simple and clear that even patriarchs will understand it, that Homo sapiens will be extinct by 2030. The civilization so beloved by privileged people will be gone before then. Habitat for humans will be gone before then. The last humans on Earth will be gone by 2030.
Not even bunkers, nuclear submarines, or Soylent Green will protect humans from loss of habitat on Earth. And don’t even get me started on space travel. Oh, wait: I dismissed that notion long ago.
I’ve been writing about abrupt climate change in this space since 2007. Apparently it came as a surprise to some people when my message went mainstream.
Words matter, as I’ve often stated. Therefore, when the opportunity arose recently, I sought to point out that not every statement is a prediction. For example, I did not make a prediction on the National Geographic episode: “I can’t imagine …” is not a prediction, as I pointed out. Repeatedly. In this space.
To no avail, obviously. Seeking one of those precious teachable moments, I kept pointing out the difference between prediction and other, similar words (e.g., speculation, statement, scenario). Many idiots, poor readers, and wishful “thinkers” incorrectly believed I was backtracking. I wasn’t. The teachable moment was lost in a shitstorm of idiocracy as people struggled to figure out the difference between words with different meanings.
I didn’t change my mind or my prediction. But Daniel Drumright, one of the “early adopters” of abrupt climate change in this space, did change his mind. One outcome of Daniel changing his mind was to launch a continuous volley of insults and lies my way. Thus, the recent kerfuffle.
Among the misguided foci of Daniel was an analysis conducted by Dr. Malcolm Light. Daniel could not — or at least, did not — point to a single fault with Light’s analysis. He also failed to investigate, when asked repeatedly, for evidence I’ve recently relied on Light’s analysis. Again, Daniel came up empty handed. Based on Daniel’s evidence-free, unsupported assertions, several people here incorrectly misread my own statements.
Reading comprehension is poor for most people. Critical thinking is even worse. Normalcy bias clouds both.
As it turns out, extinction will include privileged Caucasian men, along with everybody else. Most privileged Caucasian men, including me, want me to be incorrect. Wanting my prediction to be wrong does not, however, constitute evidence.
Opinions are not evidence. Opinions are not data.
But there I go again, pointing out that different words have different meanings. It didn’t work in the comments section, so I doubt it’ll work here. As has often occurred during my life as a educator, my idealism about people interferes with my goals.
And you don’t even want to know about the plethora of hate mail filling my inbox. Unless, of course, you’re writing the messages. Then you want to know, and apparently you seek a response. I simply don’t have time or interest in indulging overt displays of abject stupidity.
I’ve toned down my message within the last three years, even as the evidence has continued to accrue. In recent and forthcoming presentations, I focus on near-term human extinction, but I do not focus on a date. I still can’t imagine there will be a human on the planet in 2030, based simply upon only three factors: global dimming, ever-increasing atmospheric methane, and moistening of the upper troposphere. The dozens of other self-reinforcing feedback loops obviously will contribute to the rapidity of human extinction.
Among the reasons for my date-ignoring approach: When I use 2030, for example, then everybody in the audience assumes they’ll die on 31 December 2029. The audience focuses too intently on the date and not intently enough on the juicy parts of my message. For example, the parts about living in the moment, and being fully present with the people in your life, and so on are readily lost by the typical member of the audience. Thus, the date becomes a serious distraction instead of a conclusion rooted in my compilation of evidence.
I will continue to seek teachable moments, notwithstanding my recent failures. In return, the personal disparagement will continue. Unshackled by evidence, the critics will use the standard approaches rooted in patriarchy: bully and bluster.
Buyer beware: Most people have a vested interest in obscuring the evidence about civilization. I’m merely connecting a few dots. Shooting the messenger temporarily silences the message, but it rarely changes the message. Only the further accumulation of evidence will change the message.
I was interviewed by Gary Null on 12 April 2016 for the Progressive Commentary Hour. The interview is described and archived here, with my portion beginning at the 34:45 mark.