Some years ago a California radio preacher predicted that the world would end on May 21, 2011. When that didn’t come off on schedule, he said that he had made a slight miscalculation, and moved the cosmic deadline up to October 21 of that year. Don’t you know he was let down again? He recovered by saying that his prediction was, in fact, a “spiritual event”. Kind of a “virtual tribulation”, I guess you could say.
This preacher is 90 years old, bless him, and has had a stroke. His world is probably going to end before too long in any case, but he will have no end of successors. The most recent of these put the calamity at May 27th, 2012. That has come and gone too.
If you are reading this after some projected future date, either it didn’t come off, or you took a break from the Apocalypse to buy this newspaper. In that latter case, I appreciate your taking the time to read my column amidst what must be some terrible turmoil. I couldn’t ask for a more loyal reader. I also admire your spunk in wanting to keep up with events in your newspaper while the world falls apart. I myself would be in my wine cellar eyeing a 1991 pinot noir I have been saving for a special event. The end of the world would certainly qualify.
On a similar note, I saw the movie “2012” recently. It was loosely based on doomsday predictions in the ancient Mayan calendar that pegged the big event for December 12, 2012. The Mayans blew that one, too.
Both the preachers and the Mayans envision real cataclysms — earthquakes, horrendous storms, solar flares and other such calamities that will wipe us out in a matter of hours. That is probably a bad-news, good-news scenario. Ok, so the planet disintegrates – but you won’t be stuck in misery for years.
I don’t think we are going to get off that easy. For the abuse we have visited upon our earthly habitat, a much harsher penance is called for — and, as a matter of fact, it is already underway in the minds of some of the world’s leading experts.
In 1988, James Hansen, NASA’s chief climate scientist gave testimony before the U.S. Senate – telling them that man-made global warming had already begun. Most serious scientists (who aren’t on the payroll of a large oil company) have few doubts about it today. Most of them also believe that we still have a choice, but at this late start it is between “pain and disaster” as Michael Oppenheimer – one of the world’s foremost climate scientists puts it.
We cling to a strong belief in some eleventh hour technical breakthrough that will miraculously rescue us – the magic pill, so to speak — although it is hard to believe that the same politicians who ridiculed the science behind global warming would be smart enough to embrace the science needed to mitigate its effects.
And politicians don’t really act unless we pressure them to do so. Even if – on some level — we believe that global warming is a reality, most of us just won’t be bothered. If we can’t be put out by the discomfort of driving less, adjusting our thermostats or recycling, there won’t be much support for the pain of gas rationing, mass transit expenditures or a carbon tax.
That being the case, we should at least make some decisions on how we want to squander the last of our dwindling resources as the disaster approaches. I have designed the following multiple-choice test to help you set your priorities:
- The last gallon of fuel should be used by: A) a tractor trailer idling in a rest area parking lot while the driver takes a nap. B) a NASCAR race winner cutting donuts in the winner’s circle after winning a 500 miler. C) a teenager chopping up the environment in an ATV.
- I’d like to see the last few watts of electricity used: A) by a television station to air the 21,738th rerun of “The Andy Griffith Show.” B) by a homeowner leaving his 42” flat screen TV set on (after watching Andy Griffith) to entertain the dog while the owner goes to the store. C) an electronic billboard to advertise the product described in 3C (below).
- I support using the last quart of fresh water: A) on the 11th green of a country club golf course. B) by a suburban homeowner to power wash his driveway. C) in a bottling plant that will add chemicals, sugar, color and fizz and market it.
Now – that wasn’t so hard, was it?
Since you are still hanging around and locomoting, you know that the preachers’ end days prophesies haven’t worked out so far. Don’t despair though. They – and others — will go back to their references to work out another timeline. Meanwhile, the rest of us continue to chug along. Here’s a recent news release:
After a decline in CO2 emissions in 2009 of 1%, global emissions jumped by more than 5% in 2010 — unprecedented in the last two decades. Global consumption of coal and natural gas (responsible for about 40% and 20% of total CO2 emissions, respectively) both grew in 2010 by 7%.
Mother Nature is watching – and she is ticked off.
“End Times The Hard Way” was first published in Chuck Thurston’s “Senior Scribbles Unearthed” – available from Indigo Sea Press and Amazon. He is currently working on a third book in this series. Look for “Senior Scribbles Bathroom Reader” in late 2016.