No one who truly reads this book will ever be the same afterwards. Whether you agree in the end with its drastic and shocking conclusions is, of course, up to you; the very fact that such a book, outlining the case for the coming extinction of life on earth, could be written at all – and with such fearless clarity and compassion – changes absolutely all serious conversation about our contemporary world crisis and our potential response to it.
In “Extinction Dialogues” Carolyn Baker and Guy McPherson make four essential points. The first is that overwhelmingly scientific evidence now makes clear that our envirornment is headed for swift apocalyptic collapse, and that this evidence has now to be faced and integrated at the deepest level by all those human beings brave enough who want to face the unspeakable facts rather than be drugged by what Guy McPherson wryly calls “hopium”. The authors know from their own fierce experience that such integration is extremely costly and demands a capacity to weather unprecedented grief, depression, outrage, and despair. There is no way out of this extreme process the authors believe; we can only be of help to each other in the end game of our world if we allow all of our remaining illusions about human agency, fix-it solutions, and magical thinking about divine intervention, to be ruthlessly burnt away in the furnace of truth.
The second theme this book explores fearlessly is that as we do face the facts about climate change, we find ourselves staring into the face of death not only of our civilization but of our species, and the death too of all animal species and most of Nature. What Guy and Carolyn make clear, however, is that this facing of the Unimaginable and Unspeakable need not, and must not, result in despair, helplessness and destructive passivity. Beyond hope lies Love, Love for its own sake and truth and radiance, Love that we must learn to embody and act out on every level in every way to find meaning and joy in the final situation we have created from our ignorance and greed. What the now-likely scenario of extinction is demanding of all of us is a going-beyond our human fantasies of entitlement, success and survival into a radical embodiment of what I would call the divine truth of our nondual identity – a truth that will be all the more inspiring and empowering in a situation when it alone can provide strength calm and continuing purpose. Millions of us will now have to undertake urgently the journey of Awakening for the world not to die out in a brutal orgy of madness and chaos.
The third theme that Guy and Carolyn drive home is that we must now find the courage to accept that the whole world could be very well already be in a “hospice” situation and that this asks all of us to make now the most serious decision – how to live the rest of our lives in Love and service, not for the sake of success or survival but to keep human dignity and compassion alive in finally extreme circumstances. We must, all of us, open our hearts in all-embracing compassion toward all the other beings trapped in what Rilke called “this burning boat of meat”, practicing active kindness toward all the animals that will be incinerated in an apocalypse of our own making, and doing everything in our own power to reach out to the weaker among us and those that will be driven to despair, and even madness, as the full truth of our appalling predicament becomes diamond-clear. Sacred Activism becomes even more important and soul-saving in a terminal situation, for two reasons: Action is always the best antidote to despair, even when it cannot change the circumstances; action from a sacred consciousness is the one way in which even if we have to die out we can do so with dignity and without forfeiting the one thing we can still preserve—the essential beauty of our human divine truth. The lesson that Victor Frankl learned in the horror of the concentration camps— that only love in action can provide strength and meaning in hopeless disaster – will now have to be learned by all of us, if our species is not to die out in horrible chaos and violence. One of the most moving and inspiring aspects of “Extinction Dialogues” is how Guy and Carolyn, again and again, show us the way to finding joy and living compassion for their own sake, and so empowering ourselves with the strength that can be born in us it we are fearless enough to face where we are and what can and still must be done.
The fourth theme that dances like a golden thread throughout this amazing book is that when we do accept our potentially terminal fate, an extreme love for life on its own terms and just as it is, can be exploded within us, along with a radiant gratitude for the simplest things we have taken for granted and a rapture at the beauty of the world we are losing. When we finally face that time is running out not just for the human race but for all life, we can, if we choose, and if we pray and meditate deeply and continue to act humbly and with unconditional love in whatever circumstances that we find ourselves in, live in peace and joy and surrender to Mystery. As I myself have opened to more and more of what Carolyn and Guy are trying to tell us, I have found that it has made me want to serve more wisely, give more selflessly, and live more consciously in the calm and joyful depths of myself that death and defeat cannot pervert or destroy; all my life I have worked passionately to try and prevent the very disaster that is now upon us, and I have found that finally accepting the possibility of extinction has not destroyed my inner resolve but purified, matured, and honed it, in ways that I could never have foreseen. I have come to know, from my inmost experience, that we are never more deeply accompanied by divine grace than in extreme circumstances and that while divine grace may not save us from facing the consequences of our own terrible choices and ignorance, it can do something even more miraculous – lift us free of our false selves, initiate us into the true deep Self that loves and gives and serves anyway, come what may. This, I am discovering, slowly and sometimes very painfully, is Liberation.
Please read this book several times, carefully, and with compassion for yourself, and great gratitude for the two humbly heroic human beings that here have joined their voices to proclaimed a terrifying, but potentially all –transforming, truth. And when you have read this book and begun to integrate its message, give copies to everyone you know, and start to accompany them in their journey to opening to, and enacting with grace, its ferocious but liberating reality.
Andrew Harvey, Author of Radical Passion