Looking On The Bright Side: The End Is Nigh

When I was growing up and suffering parochial school, the nuns talked a lot about the end of the world just around the corner. My grammar school mind couldn't quite grasp the many reasons it was imminent -- predictions buried in the Bible; the restoration of the State of Israel; letters the Virgin Mary left at Fatima that predicted the wholesale destruction of Canada (what can I say: they were Canadian nuns); but I was thrilled nonetheless. I might have missed every other event in history, but at least I'd see The End.

Then nothing happened.

Well, not nothing. But for decades I was mildly depressed, disappointed that there were no continent-wide inundations, no lakes of fire, no devastating plagues, no Four Horsemen, no epic battles between Good and Evil. Sure there were plenty of troubles and lots of false prophets, but no wars that came close even to the dimensions of the Great War or the Civil War, no diseases to match the Black Death, no massacres on the scale the Holocaust or Hiroshima, no devils even of the caliber of Hitler or Stalin. There was plenty of bad stuff, but nothing that would throw into question the survival of humankind. It was pretty disheartening.

Lately, though, I've been feeling a lot more hopeful. It's looking like I may get to see The End after all.

Discounting low-probability catastrophes like a meteoroid collision, an errant black hole or a visit from Klingons, there are plenty of developments that might precipitate The End. Runaway global warming. A methane burp. The disappearance of polar ice caps. Megatsunamis from collapsing ice sheets. Vanishing supplies of fresh water from evaporation of the glaciers or the polluting of ground water. Super-sized hurricanes, typhoons, tornado clusters and dust storms. The shutdown of the Gulf Stream. Drought and desertification. Deforestation. The degradation of agricultural land. Metasticizing population growth. The fouling of the environment. The collapse of the food chain. Famine. Declining human fertility. Murderous cultural and religious tribalism. Mutating viruses. The great species die-off. The frogs. The bees. Oh, the humanity!

Is this a great time to be alive or what?

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