But It’s Not the End Yet

I just reread tonight’s Doomsday Clock post and it is a real downer. I thought of Neil Young’s intro on a live recording – “Here’s a song that’s guaranteed to bring you down. It’s called “Don’t Let It Bring Down.”

I can’t refute the ticking closer to the Doomsday calculation of that clock, but as a counter to it, I think of all the people who have predicted The End for all of us on Earth who have been wrong. We’re still here. 

Remember back in 2012 when the Maya calendar seemed to predict the end? (Some people interpreted it to mean a restart for the planet.) I wrote a few posts about the Maya calendar and the idea that 2012 was the end. I didn’t take it seriously but I found it interesting how many people did.

There is definitely some tongue-in-cheek in “My Last Post Before It All Ends” as we moved into the winter solstice that year. As I wrote, “This is my last post about the 2012 Doomsday before it all ends. By ‘it’ I mean all the hype.”

Doomsday 2021

Some late-night thoughts that hopefully won’t color the weekend in shades of gray and black…

I checked in on the Doomsday Clock this week.

The clock was devised by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project. They started the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1945 and the Doomsday Clock came in 1947. They took the idea of doomsday/apocalypse and represented it on the clock as midnight. They would evaluate nuclear threats to humanity and set the clock so that it represented a countdown to midnight. They reset it every year.

I last checked the Doomsday Clock in November 2019 and it was 11:58 pm. Two minutes to Doomsday. 2020 had enough doom and gloom so I never checked.  Today the clock is 20 seconds to midnight. And seconds matter. That’s the same place that it was set in 2020. I suppose that is a glint of optimism – things haven’t gotten worse – though it is not really optimistic.

The Doomsday Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons. In 1947, nuclear war was THE threat to the planet. But climate change and disruptive technologies in other domains have been added to the calculation.

The Bulletin did not ignore the pandemic.

“Humanity continues to suffer as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads around the world. In 2020 alone, this novel disease killed 1.7 million people and sickened at least 70 million more. The pandemic revealed just how unprepared and unwilling countries and the international system are to handle global emergencies properly. In this time of genuine crisis, governments too often abdicated responsibility, ignored scientific advice, did not cooperate or communicate effectively, and consequently failed to protect the health and welfare of their citizens.
As a result, many hundreds of thousands of human beings died needlessly”

The clock is reset in January each year. Things have been better, but never worse. It is the closest to Doomsday it has been in the history of the Doomsday Clock.

Doomsday clock
Image: Janet Loehrke, USA TODAY

 

I think I will take a look again in January 2022. But maybe I will only report back to you if there is some improvement. After all, Paradelle is supposed to be where I escape. But I know that there is no escape from Doomsday.

Let’s Check the Doomsday Clock

Clock 11-58
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was created by scientists who saw an immediate need for a public reckoning in the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  These scientists anticipated that the atom bomb would be “only the first of many dangerous presents from the Pandora’s Box of modern science.” They now see multiple threats: climate change, cyber-attacks, and the misuse of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence.

They also created the Doomsday Clock as a symbol of these threats which I check out every once and awhile.

So what is the current status of the Doomsday Clock?  “A new abnormal: It is still 2 minutes to midnight.”

“Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention. These major threats—nuclear weapons and climate change—were exacerbated this past year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilization in extraordinary danger.”

Watch “2019 Doomsday Clock Announcement” on Vimeo

World’s End

The earthquakes, tsunami, and nuclear events in Japan this week have the world thinking. I knew it would only be a matter of days before I would come upon stories about it signaling the end of the world.

There have been countless theories throughout time about how and when the world will end. We remember silly ones like the conspiracy theorists who claimed that the Y2K bug was the start of the devastation in the new century will be our last century on Earth.

There’s Bible prophecy. The Book of Revelation has seven trumpets, two witnesses, a dragon (the devil), the beast (the antichrist) the false prophet, and seven golden bowls. The judgments passed on to our Earth include plague, earthquakes, hailstorms, fire, famine, meteors, and no more drinking water.

Native Americans have their own world’s end predictions.

It’s almost commonly accepted nowadays that humans will eventually destroy the Earth all by themselves. Global warming, pollution, over-population – take your pick.

In the opposite direction, some believe that Earth is slated for another ice age which will kill off all living things.

Astronomers say that billions of years from now, the s­un will become a red giant, expanding to a size larger than the Earth’s orbit and consuming Earth in the process.

Robert Frost’s poem “Fire and Ice” says:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

If the planet survives that red giant, the sun will eventually shrink, becoming a white dwarf and gradually cooling off until it can no longer warm anything in the solar system.

I have written here several times about all the talk around 2012 and the Mayan calendar. Today I was playing with the HowStuffWorks iPhone app and turned up another 2012 article and podcast.

It’s my current favorite of the Armageddon scenarios because it can be viewed as hopeful. Scientists of repute and on the fringe say the current Great Cycle began Aug. 11, 3114 B.C. making th­e end Dec. 21, 2012. It’s also the solstice day (in an American election year too) which seems like a wild coincidence, but actually makes sense since the Maya were very connected to those seasonal solar and lunar changes – much more so than modern man.

So, December 21 gets the Mayan mark for being the big day.

My reading in all this leads me to conclude that the Mayan people didn’t actually believe the world was going to end with this cycle. There’s as much (or as little, depending on your point of view) evidence that they believed it would be the start of a new and better cycle and a time of celebration.

What will happen that day? All the usual things.

You use a calendar yourself, don’t you? What happened when 2010 ended? Did the New Year’s Day have great changes? Did you actually feel the new decade begin? Even our own really big calendar cycle – the new millennium – came and went without much greater change.

I buy into the Mayan reboot on the planet more than the predictions like those of Nostradamus that try to pin down specific people and events.

Our Anglo-Saxon forefathers got so freaked out about the great survey of much of England and parts of Wales in 1086 by William the Conqueror that the resulting Domesday Book took on the tone of the Day of Judgement.  “For as the sentence of that strict and terrible last account cannot be evaded by any skillful subterfuge, so when this book is appealed to … its sentence cannot be put quashed or set aside with impunity. That is why we have called the book ‘the Book of Judgement’ … because its decisions, like those of the Last Judgement, are unalterable.”

Will there be a December 2012 doomsday or a time of great spiritual awakening or a massive shift in global consciousness?

Spin the Wheel of Fortune and make a choice:  Armageddon, the final battle between the Christ and the Anti-Christ in the Christian New Testament or End times, a prophesied time of tribulation that would precede the Second Coming of the Messiah in Abrahamic religions or Ragnarök, the ancient Norse prediction of the end of the world or Pralaya, in Hindu mythology or just plain Destruction, in the Brahma Kumaris religion.