sundown facing extinction

8 Things to DO in the Face of Extinction

(Photo by Andreas Selter on

Have you done nothing since you think the extinction of the human species is possible?

Extinction Rebellion have incorporated the “evil” E-word into their name and the hourglass’s time into their logo. Even the young Fridays for Future movement talks about the possible end of the human species. Dramatic consequences of global warming are visible all over the world.

What is to be done?

Here I offer a small selection of DOs. I concentrate on ideas that help you to live with these dire prospects. There are a lot more to add.

I wish to find as much acceptance as possible for whatever comes.

If you share this desire, I invite you to follow me a few steps along this path.

1) Fictitious Date of Death

I have told a friend that I am going to give me a fictitious date of death and that I feel relieved. I guess he thought „He is going crazy!“ But he asked me nicely: „Why?“

I have heard an audio book from Alexandra Reinwarth. She describes in „Life is too short for later“ (only in German available) how she and her circle of friends is confronted with another friend getting a new cancer diagnosis. Everything that is important in life stands in a different light. She decides to make a self-experiment. She gives herself a fictitious date of death in about a year. I have enjoyed to listen to Alexandra‘s experiences during this year. She describes it with a large portion of humor and self-irony.

With these experiences of Alexandra in mind I can answer my friends question. With death in mind I am relieved to see more clearly what‘s really important for me in my life.

With extinction in mind it is not easier. There are rough ideas as to what our near future might look like. Nobody of us has experienced extinction of the own species. It’s easy to talk your way out of it: “Perhaps I have three more years, maybe even ten.”

Let us begin with one more year. I have begun my last year while I have been writing the first ideas for this text. I am looking forward having tears and fun like Alexandra.

2) Cleaning

I grew up in a big and old house, very old, more than 350 years. This house had a large attic. We loved it as a playing ground when we were kids. There have been cupboards and other furnitures, everything that accumulates during many decades. My aunt and my grandma died and their households had to be cleared. All what wasn’t thrown away ended up in the attic.

When my parents got older and lived in this big house alone they began to clean the attic. My sister, my brother and I decided which furniture we wanted to have. And during months – or better said – years much was given away, passed on or thrown away. That was a big job and my parents needed help of their family.

From today’s point of view I recognize that we had initiated a big End-Of-Life (EOL) ritual. Well, my parents died not many years after this ritual. And there was a lot of stuff left in the rest of the house.

I have remembered all this, when I stumbled across the book “Magic Cleaning” from Marie Kondo.

Marie Kondo turns the sorting upside down. Instead of concentrating on things, that she doesn’t like, she holds every thing with her hands and asks her heart if it brings joy into her life. The aim is to be surrounded with things you like and that touch your heart. This means bathing in abundance. The side effect is to reduce things. Another side effect is that it is infectious for other family members.

It’s important to find the right balance that feels comfortable for you, it’s no challenge who has the fewest things.

It is really a to-DO. And the doing has a huge symbolic value for cleaning your mind. It’s a strong cleaning ritual and a grief ritual as well.

3) Listening to Podcasts

Podcasts get close – right into your ears and your head. And the voice is very personal and authentic.

Most people who think that it is possible for us to be in the midst of an extinction wave, including humankind, experience that loved ones don’t want to know anything about this subject. The vast majority of people don’t want to let any of this get to them. So they remain alone with it.

I guess you have similar experiences.

Internet and social media are important ways to find like-minded people.

The biggest power of podcasts is to come in touch emotionally. The voice has a very direct access to emotions. Even if you hear something about scientific stuff you receive a lot between the lines. Especially if you use headphones you let the voice direct into your head. This is simply an additional effect that comes with the medium.

Listening to voices talking about the unfolding disaster gives you the feeling of not being alone with it. It becomes a “normal” topic to even laugh about. The emotional reactions come to rest.

The biggest weakness of podcasting is that it is a one-way communication.

4) Social Media Diet

When you have come in touch with the 6th mass extinction wave one reaction might have been that you have devoured informations. May be you tried to find mistakes, you wanted to expand the room to negotiate. Or you wanted to deal with uncertainty. May be you are sure that we are in the midst of a great demise of biological systems. But it is not clear how this catastrophe will touch your life and how long you will live your life, how you are used to. Or you wish to find something that helps to wake up from this bad dream. Is it a bad dream?

With daily catastrophe news and these big questions it is likely that you burn out. Many of the to-dos I am writing about might help to cool down, but at some point it’ll be enough. You need a break.

The book “Deep Focus” from Cal Newport gave me this valuable clue. “Deep Focus” is about how you can do your work with more concentration and less distraction. But it is really good to transfer to other things – outside work.

Cal Newport suggests to shut down all social media channels or to pause for 30 days. And then you ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Would the last thirty days have been notably better if I had been able to use this service
  2. Did people care that I wasn’t using this service?
    If your answer is “no” to both questions, quit the service permanently. If your answer was a clear “yes”, then return to using the service. If your answers are qualified or ambiguous, it’s up to you weather you return to the service, though I would encourage you to lean toward quitting. – Cal Newport in Deep Work

I didn’t come back to Twitter for example. Now I only use Facebook with a handful of groups and instagram primarily for dog photos. And for family communication I use the save messenger Signal. And I like to listen to podcasts and sometimes I publish episodes.

My experience is that my blog posts have more attention. I am sure it’s an effect of the deeper focus.

5) Body Experience

Many years ago while I tried to change my professional perspective I got to know Bodewijn Vermeulen a former financial auditor. He had developed a very individual coaching method. After I had a coaching weekend with him I joined a course “train the trainer”.

Among other exercises we have trained our body awareness, danced, have done movement meditation, Feldenkreis, progressive muscle relaxation. We have always exchanged our body sensations. Which foot is cooler? Am I standing more on my heel or ball of the foot? Do I breathe more into the left or right lung? Do I pull one shoulder up more than the other?

That sounds trivial at first glance. But the potential for change has become more and more apparent. Unpleasant feelings, for example, are perceived much more clearly and can then go without being evaluated or questioned. This is the same when Buddhists recommend to concentrate on one’s own breathing.

An easy way to train body experience is progressive muscle relaxation. Here you‘ll find an online version or here or search for „progressive muscle relaxation mp3. You can easily relax and as a welcome side effect you go through your body and make it more aware.

Other possibilities to train body experience are Yoga, Tai Chi and trainings where you become aware of in-breath and out-breath.

6) End of Live (EOL) documents

My parents and my parents-in-law have died at a high age of mid 80 or early 90. They all had written a living will, where they have determined in detail how they want to be treated when they are in the dying process. For the most part that are medical questions. But it has been very us eful to let them go and not to try every medical treatment to prolong life in the last weeks or days.

I have helped my parents drawing up those documents. As doctor and nurse they had very clear ideas and wishes. I have been surprised, how easy it has been to talk with them about death and dying.

My wife and me had experiences accompanying our parents in the process of dying. Nevertheless, we have put off drawing up EOL documents ourselves. We needed some months from the first version until all were signed. I had many conversations with my wife about dying, and with our children too.

I do not believe that we can rely on it to be exactly the same as we have written it in the documents. In a collapse situation, we will probably not be faced with the question of which medical treatment we prefer.

But I have found it very valuable, to talk about death and dying with my family and some friends. This is a very good opportunity to overcome this taboo.

7) Express Gratitude

The following video is about feeling happier by expressing gratitude. Feeling happier facing death and extinction is quiet a good idea. To appreciate the people who have the greatest influence on us is a win-win situation.

If that’s too big for you, you can try 5-minute-journaling:

  • Get a notebook ready.
  • Every morning at the top of the page, write down three things that would make the day ahead a good day.
  • Make a note of an affirmation to accompany you through the day. A motivating sentence that gives you security, self-confidence, courage.
  • Before you go to bed, write down three things for which you are grateful, that you have experienced/perceived them. Important: Be as concrete as possible, also appreciate little things, but above all: Write down only what you really feel.

If you ask yourself where the 8th point is: Sometimes it’s over faster than expected.

Please add more ideas about what you are doing or want to do in the comments section.


FTE41 ~ Sam Carana warnt vor Massenaussterben


FTE42 ~ One Year on the Brink of Extinction


  1. Wolfgang has taken another dive into the psychology of the predicament we find ourselves in and invites us all to comment on the blog post which I believe is a great idea.
    We’re all trying to navigate the perfect storm, lets all talk about the emotional rollercoaster and support each other as best we can.
    Broadly my thoughts on this subject are encapsulated in my blog post titled “Navigating Hospice at the Edge of Extinction”.
    There hhas never been a more important time to form a tribe of trusted friends, get on with it, time is short.

    • Cynthia Chan

      Hello Keven,

      Thank you and Guy so much for your podcast and for being truth-sayers. I find solace in knowing that there are other sentient beings (not in my current work situation unfortunately) whom I resonate with; I listen on podcasts such as Wolfgang and yours and Jem Bendell’s, which help me to navigate on a daily basis this pain/sadness that I carry but find overwhelming at times. It feels like terminal cancer (sorry if I use medical analogy as I’m a medical provider), but I do feel as though we are going thru a terminal cancer epidemic (for many species) on Mother Earth….the viruses, bacteria and certain other forms of life will continue to evolve, mutate and survive. We on the other hand, may not. Con’t to plant trees, I send you blessings!

  2. Chaeyoung Park

    I want to fine my true love ASAP!

  3. Paul Schofield

    Thank you for your suggestions and comments. Much of what you say I have also experienced, friends and family don’t want to know or read the science. I don’t say much now, young Greta Thunberg is doing it for us all and I expect a great awakening to happen soon. For many years I tried to wake people up to no avail, just became that eccentric old uncle with a one track mind. Just like to enjoy my gardens family and friends and try to be a bit creative with my woodworking. I feel a deep sense of sadness at the crime we have committed, there is no greater, but don’t allow myself to be overwhelmed by despair anymore. The sadness runs to the core of my being if I allow it to. Such wonder, such beauty. What is happening is beyond thought.
    My best wishes

    • Cynthia Chan

      Carry on Paul! I too, find my voice on deaf ears with family and friends, despite the daily news of climate catastrophe, Japan’s devastating typhoon, the yearlong fires in Calif where I reside, et al. Know that there are many others who are sad, just as you are. You are not crazy. Blessings to you and con’t to garden!

  4. 8
    Despair. I think as responsible humans we should attempt to understand this coming extinction for what it is: the complete and utter failure of mankind to attain a sustainable civilization on this formerly perfect planet. We deserve no less than to dwell on the depth of this understanding with eyes wide open. We should witness this event in its full horror as a form of punishment for our personal complicity in it’s accomplishment. Those of us with a history of watching our leaders cultivate corruption while we stood by helpless should be teachers of regret and we should promote the knowledge of our collective ownership of a failure that spans all races, all regions and all ages overall the earth. We deserve the contempt of our children and should make no attempt to shift blame to philosophy or religion or any other machination of human thought. To pretend that cleaning out the attic, making a will, setting a date for death, or spreading the love is an adequate response to chaos is just another way to deny what is happening. To really comprehend what the human race has done to itself, has done to its only home in the universe, and to its future, is to face a sadness that has no equal in human history. All wars and cruelty and destruction that man has ever visited on this world were only a dark prelude to this final act. And all the beauty and wonder and potential that man was given to start with were just the pieces of a profound tragedy waiting for it’s time to unfold.

    • Cynthia Chan

      you are so right on, can you go out and smell a flower and know that there are many sentient beings who also feel this way? I send you a big hug for humankind….20 years ago I served the Native Alaskan villages as a medical provider and a shaman in one village had a vision, in animal form, who came to him in dreamtime that what we see now will be unfolding….chaos, troubling events in the world, mass destruction…he warned his village, one of the young villagers told me and I kind of shrugged it off. But I clearly remember now his vision, his warning of what was to come to his people.
      My heart feels heavy.

  5. Kirk Hamilton

    8) A Somber Joy

    As a pessimist, I sincerely believe that it would have been infinitely better had none of us been born. All types and intensities of suffering are the burden of all people, in all times. That would be OK to live with, on its own. But humans have added another dimension to suffering, that of Unnecessary Suffering. In struggles to survive, and have more for themselves, humans have produced so much Unnecessary Suffering that it far outweighs all of the good that we have done.

    I have come to regard humanity as unworthy of existence, and take a somber joy in our demise. In fact, this philosophy has made it easy for me to face what’s coming, and I highly recommend it to others. However, you will find even fewer people willing to listen to pessimistic ideals than you will find willing to talk about climate change.

  6. Gareth d

    I am choosing to write a book about a community that finds themselves in dire trouble, because of the climate crisis. I feel like I am writing a history book from the future. It isn’t despairing, or critical, just real life trading for new situations.

  7. Become aware of what is happening inside. It’s beyond time.

    With your body, you experience gravity in your way but there is only one gravity.

    There is only one fear, anger, love, anxiety…

    Your soul is one of many but there is also the one universal soul.
    You can find it nowhere but within.

  8. Stella Anderson

    Wolfgang, you and I are on the exact same path. I did precisely these same things, using a date Guy threw out there of 2025.

    I downsized my house and said goodbye to much; giving heirlooms to nieces and leaving a house with so much more space. Space to lose myself into. Space to throw a pad down and do yoga or play with the dogs and cats.

    I wrote up a will and donated my assets to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a dedicated group trying to gain rights for animals.

    Sometimes I listen to podcasts but often I don’t even want words in my head. Classical music fills me with joy and control over my own thoughts. Not someone else’s words, but mine.

    I volunteer at a local Kitten Rescue, all run by volunteers with on average 100 cats spread out in cobbled together sheds and structures to keep them 100% comfortable, safe, and healthy…until adopted.

    I just returned from a rare trip that involved a flight to Ireland, where I volunteered at a sanctuary for cats and dogs. The founder saw one day a sheep crawling on its two front legs, it back legs disabled, and approached the “farmer” about the animal. He told her he knew about it; was waiting for it to get big enough to slaughter. The people at this sanctuary are saints as far as I am concerned, and I was honored to be there to help them.

    I switched to a vegetarian and then vegan diet long ago, but live with a guilty conscience for being brought up on a farm and then being a fisherman in Alaska destroying the ancient mother halibut, salmon, ling cod, and sea bass.

    Each day in my heart I pay homage to all non-human animals on this Earth, that we will continue to exploit and disrespect to our dying breath.

    I grow and preserve organic food, and love to putter around the yard, feeling a connection to nature, listening to the birds… to the weather.

  9. Cynthia Chan

    Thank you Wolfgang! Please con’t to do your podcasts, you may not realize it, but you are affecting many more than you can see! I have decided to move into another area of medicine and looking at hospice care…also to move to an area where I can start an organic farm and connect with other more like minded souls.
    By listening to podcasts such as yours, Guy and Kevin’s, Jem Bendell, et al, I have become inspired and motivated to make a huge change in my life while I still can…

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