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Apocalypse Not

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It is easier to flirt with doomsday predictions than to take action against real threats to our planet…

By Greg Seaman, Posted Jan 3, 2012

earth from space The turn of a year, from old to new, is a special moment in time when optimism comes naturally. Last year’s successes and failures are behind us, and we can look to the year ahead as a clean slate, and plan our lives to move closer to our personal goals.

Every new year brings the future one year closer, and sharpens our view of the challenges which lie ahead of us. Today, we can see how our collective personal goals are dependent on a healthy global ecosystem, and why we each need to develop life plans which include strategies for reducing our environmental footprint. Saving energy, conserving water, reducing consumption, minimizing waste, and shedding the use of toxic chemicals are the new life skills for 21st century living, and we need to be busy learning how to incorporate these values into our future lifestyles.

Unfortunately, this New Years is also a time for escapism. In lieu of sober assessments and realistic plans, we can take the simpler route and indulge in escapist fantasies which free us of responsibility for making personal changes which address the real challenges we face.

This year’s great escapism is the absurd belief in an ancient Mayan prophecy of global cataclysm forecast for the year 2012. The New Year’s Day editions of CNN International, the Washington Post, L.A. Times, and many other prominent news outlets feature stories about the Mayan 2012 prophecy. There are plenty of survivalist websites, full of accounts of people preparing for the coming TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World As We Know It), which cater to doomsday believers, but mainstream media coverage gives oxygen to these fantasies and accords them an undeserved amount of attention.

In these same media outlets today, there are no articles about the climate-related challenges we may face in 2012.

The Mayan doomsday scenario gained steam with the release of last year’s movie “2012,” which entertained viewers with a depiction of the destruction of planet Earth. In recent years, dozens of books have been written with titles such as “Apocalypse 2012: The Ticking of the End Time Clock,” “2012: The Awakening” and “The Mystery of 2012: Predictions, Prophecies and Possibilities”. Ironically, there seems to be a future in the doomsday prediction business.

Ironically, there seems to be a future in the doomsday prediction business.

Apocalypse 2011 was brought to us by the ‘religious broadcaster’ Harold Camping. The media was awash for months with reports about his doomsday “Rapture” prediction. In his books, We Are Almost There! and To God Be the Glory!, Camping claimed that the Rapture would take place on May 21, 2011, destroying Earth and transporting the righteous — approximately 3 percent or just over 200 million of the world’s nearly seven billion inhabitants — to heaven. When May 21 passed without event, Camping simply advanced the date a few months. CNN and other prominent media outlets took the bait once again and dutifully reported the story through October.

I remember a few years ago a similar story captured major media headlines for days. A comet was on “possible” collision course with our planet. The news articles described vivid scenarios of how the impact would destroy life on earth, yet buried in the details was the scientific likelihood of collision being less than one in a million! This over-reported story seemed to stand in contrast to the under-reported warnings from our scientific community about more plausible threats to the health of our planet.

When confronted with today’s planet-altering threat of climate change, the closest thing we have to a real doomsday scenario, the mainstream media seems to take a cautious approach. After all, large media businesses are supported by corporate advertisers who have a stake in the status quo. Today’s media has a difficult job of balancing objectivity with corporate survival.

Apocalypse predictions may be broadcast by the media, but they are fueled by us, the readers. We have long held a fascination with doomsday scenarios, and our interest seems to be on the rise. Why is it that these absurd stories capture our attention? Because in each doomsday scenario, we humans bear no responsibility for the cause or the consequences of the impending threat. We can dwell on the drama of destruction, and many of us take shelter in religious beliefs that all will end well in the eternal comfort of heaven. In no instance are we expected to take responsibility or action to address our earthly fate.

Implicit in the notion of apocalypse is victimhood. We are doomed by an overwhelming force which we cannot redirect or prevent. And herein lies the danger of apocalyptic prophecies and doomsday scenarios. If we see ourselves as victims to global threats, our inaction will hasten our demise.

If we see ourselves as victims to global threats, our inaction will hasten our demise.

In all the political discourse we have endured thus far in the lead-up to the 2012 elections, there has been no mention of climate change. Many of our political leaders won’t even discuss climate change. The biggest threat to mankind is absent from the headlines. Yet, if there are to be any earth-changing events in the near future, they will likely be associated with climate change. This is the ‘apocalypse’ we should be focusing on.

New Years is a prime time for reflection and planning. It’s a shame to waste this valuable moment with distractions such as Doomsday prophecies when we need more than ever to focus on the real matters at hand.

A Happy New Year isn’t something that just happens. It is what we make it. Happy New Year to you, and the birds, animals, fish, trees, plants and all of wild nature! May your future be grounded on a path towards sustainability.


Earth image via Bigstock.

Posted in Science and Transportation Tags
  • SandyM

    Harold Camping received over $80 million in donations for his doomsday poppycock. Wonder how much of it he gave back.

  • It seems that over the past decade as climate change has moved from a controversial debate to widely accepted, it receives a lot less attention.

    • Kent

      Believe it or not, climate change is still debated by some, even though it is blatantly obvious the polar ice caps are melting some still contend this. To me it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise snow in April (UK) is “weird weather”.

  • Bibingkang May Biyak

    Now Doomsday is going to be a business for others ..  But the fact that climate change and what we so called human made calamities are spreading all over the world. Some businessman can easily fool people who are too afraid of this fact.

  • Larson564

    I don’t believe in ancient predictors of doom but the news of scientists making a new strain of deadly bird flu virus is a real threat. This virus is much more dangerous than an armed Hydrogen bomb, and it’s made by researchers paid with tax dollars. You can’t make this stuff up.

  • salma hanif

    This entire doomsday stuff is all part of media getting the attention of people. I seriously HATE it. They should be focusing on climate change and energy conservation! 

  • It is high time that we take a note that our mother Earth could take no more of our tortures from cutting down trees to high carbon emissions.  We should have to be more responsible.

  • We should not think too much about the end of mother earth or doomsday… we should concentrate on the good things in our lifes and live every day like it is our last!

  • I agress with thomas ..
    we should concentrate on the good things in our lifes and live every day like it is our last!

  • Wes

    People love this doomsday predictions. From Nostradamus to Mayan predictions to Hollywood movies, Apocalypse sells period!

  • I completely agree.  The hard thing is to stay focused on reality and commit to real change.

  • Guest

    We will see when December 21, 2012 arrives, until then it is very easy to speculate. Nonetheless, the Mayan’s did NOT predict the end of the world, but changes. It is so easy to speak before knowing all the facts.

  • Walker

    Doomsday stories sell, just like crop circle stories and alien abductions.

  • Mrs. Vegetables

    In my understanding, TEOTWAWKI can include the impact of climate change on our ability to grow food, sustain ourselves, etc. Most reasonable “prepper” community members I’ve come to know seem to be striving for similar objectives as earth/environmentally sensitive people.  What I’ve learned is this: preparing for emergency–regardless of your beliefs– can help maintain the discipline of a sustainable ecological mindset, whether you seek to conserve the planet, humanity, or both.

  • No no no….you’ve got it all wrong.  The world isn’t coming to an end……only living human life because of the Zombie Apocalypse.  If you don’t have your Zombie preparation kit….you’re screwed….hehehe.  Good article had funny reading it.

  •  Thanks for the information. I guess there is no safe place anywhere in the world today. Earth needs a reboot. What do you think?

  • If you always believing about the predictions of the humans here on earth nothing happen good in your life, why not to keep our faith in our Creator atleast no matter what happen we are prepare.

  • Very interesting perspective.  Living through the aftermath of Katrina (and every place has had its own disaster) this article drives some points home.  One that you said “Implicit in the notion of apocalypse is victimhood” is quite provacative.

  • This end of the world discussion is just scaring people. It all comes down to this: do your part in taking care of the environment. Do that, and you’ll rest easy knowing you’ve done your part. Even if it’s the end of the world tomorrow, at least you’re not guilty about it.

  • This entire doomsday stuff is all part of media getting the attention of people. I seriously HATE it. They should be focusing on climate change and energy conservation!

  • Manoj Kumar

    Most reasonable “prepper” community members I’ve come to know seem to be
    striving for similar objectives as earth/environmentally sensitive

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