The End Of The World As We Know It

One reason Global Warming, er, sorry, Climate Change, doesn’t have me wetting myself in fear is I’ve lived through too many other End Of The World As We Know It predictions.  These are a few of the EOTWAWKI predictions I recall in my lifetime:

The Cold War – the most real and likely end of the world.  We even came close a couple of times, but it never happened.  It ended when Reagan’s military budgets drove the USSR into bankruptcy.  Thank you, Ronnie, not only for ending WW III but for the sheer glee of watching lefties go through painful logic contortions to avoid giving you credit.

Armageddon – I was raised in an apocalyptic cult that proclaimed the world would end in 1975.  I left them around ’74.  I wasn’t brave; I just realized it was nonsense.  Then I became a vampire.

“Famine 1975” – A best seller that predicted we’d all be eating our pets in by the mid seventies.  Here we are in 2009 with more food than we know what to do with.  (Sorry, famine stricken countries.  Your starvation is caused by government and economic policies, not lack of food.)

Global Cooling – The big scare in the 70s was that global cooling was going to kill us all.  We’d be fighting off glaciers and the only way to stop it was to shut down industry.  (Sound familiar?)

Pollution – We were all going to die in our own filth.  Rivers were catching fire!  There was no hope, we were doomed.  (Rachel Carson was before my time, or at least before I was politically aware.)  We were told that breathing in big cities was the same as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.  (Nonsense, of course, but it scared a lot of people.)  Nixon created the EPA to deal with it, and they actually did, cleaning up things pretty well until Carol Browner took over and turned the agency into a junk science machine whose primary goal, besides increasing their own power and funding, was harassing big companies for sport.

“The Population Bomb” – Another fun EOTWAWKI book, predicting the fall of mankind via overpopulation.  Dr. Paul Erlich has an amazing record.  He’s been predicting disaster for four decades, and  every one of his predictions has been wrong.  His 100% track record has made him a darling of the left, where he continues to pontificate for a living.

The Jupiter Effect – on March 10, 1982, all the planets would line up and the gravitational stress would cause huge earthquakes and probably rip the planet apart.  The planets weren’t really lined up, and even if they were the effect would have been too small to measure.  The most interesting thing that happened on that day was Travis Jackson and Happy Chandler were elected to Baseball Hall of Fame. Also, 28 skiers in Bromont, Quebec performed backflips while holding hands.  No studies were done to see if funky gravity made the feat easier.

Flesh Eating Bacteria – OMG, We’re All Gonna Die because FEB was going to consume our bodies in a matter of hours!  It’s going to spread like bad pop music and kill us all.  Except it didn’t.

The China Syndrome – The movie came out the week of the Three Mile Island accident.  Only one of them was a real disaster, but the two events raised enough fears to stall development of nuclear power ever since.

Killer Bees – First they’d kill all the regular bees.  Then they’d kill us.  And it will hurt even more than watching the multitude of cheesy movies about it.

The Millennium Bug – Airplanes would fall out of the sky and traffic lights would go kerflooey, causing massive accidents.  Nuclear plants would melt down and sewerage plants would spew effluent into the environment.  None of that ever happened, due to a massive program to fix software and replace old computers before that fateful day.  I was part of a team working on the problem for a bank.  I found one old computer, whose sole purpose in life was to make one call a day, via modem, and transfer money from a government tax collection department to the bank.  If that had been allowed to fail the result would have been. . . the money sitting in the wrong account for a day or two.

I predicted the bug would cause a few minor incidents, but even that wimpy prediction was wrong.

Bird Flu – Limited to birds, but we should remain afraid because it will cross over and wipe out a billion or two of us.

I’m not sure if this is still considered a current threat or not.  Threats tend to lose their OMG! effect rather quickly, and so have to be replaced by fresh threats from time to time lest we actually relax and enjoy our lives.

And here we are, with fresh new threats to mankind.  And these, were assured, are far more dangerous than those overblown old threats.  Global Warming has morphed into Climate Change, allowing any fluctuation in either direction to be hailed as TEOTWAWKI.  And we’ve also got Bee Colony Collapse and Ocean Acidification and and and and ….

Pardon me while I don’t get all upset about it.  I’ve got far more serious things to consider, like should I make chili for dinner, or have the leftover lasagna?

Oh damn, the lasagna is moldy.  It was good lasagna too.  Now that’s worth getting upset about.

13 Comment(s)

  1. You forgot AIDS. We were all supposed to be dead by now. I still don’t personally know anyone with AIDS or who has died from AIDS. Remember the maps showing the speed of the spread of the disease?

    We didn’t all die, but we now have a lot of HIV positive people who are going to die from AIDS at some point in their lives (when they are 90?)and a lot of people afraid of having sex (you never know if your partner has slept with someone that is HIV positive)and a tremendous expansion in pharmaceutical sales and fund-raisers to save the world from AIDS.

    Nikki Alden | Apr 5, 2009 | Reply

  2. Overall, I enjoy this site, especially the “Things Atheists Didn’t Do.” Having said that, the post on climate change is sophomoric, unless the National Academy of Sciences should be ignored while morons like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck are to be taken seriously.

    diogeron | Jun 26, 2009 | Reply

  3. diogeron:

    You know why you shouldn’t be worried about climate change? Because climate change is a natural cycle of the planet. It’s been hotter before now, and it has risen at faster rates. The entire threat boils down to, “look, this slope is increasing, and if we take the batshit-insane assumption that it will keep increasing at this rate, we’ll all be boiling in our skin by 2200.” Climate change is a political issue, not a scientific one. There’s millions of dollars in funding involved, so its pretty easy to get “scientific” results that skew the right way from just about anyone.

    Aaron | Aug 24, 2009 | Reply

  4. The big thing i hate about the whole climate change debate is that people categorically denounce the whole field as junk science.

    While it may be a stretch of data to assume that our activities are warming the planet… its absolutely not a stretch of the data to assume that our pollution of the environment is going to have drastic consequences.

    If you take a moment out of your daily rush/beck listening, and examine some of the scary things happening with the environment you can quickly see some very disturbing happenings.

    Need a refresher?

    1) Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone” A shifting zone of ocean that is so heavily polluted that virtually nothing can live in it. Currently covers an area of 6 to 7 THOUSAND sqaure kilometers. It has been as large as 18,000 square km. Sounds extreme? Look it up for yourself.

    2) Great pacific garbage patch. an area about twice the size of texas consisting of dramatic amounts of plastic pollution. The floating debris is trapped in the swirling currents of the pacific ocean, and contain approximately 100 million tons of plastic waste.

    Thats just 2 examples of dramatic and completely avoidable pollution.. science doesnt even fully understand the implications of pollution on such a grand scale.

    The thing that gets me is that the vast majority of people dont even realize this kind of stuff is happening, let alone care. And even if they do know its happening, the just dont seem to be able to put 2 and 2 together to realize that this kind of stuff cant just happen without consequence. There has to be SOME kind of repercussion, right?

    Well, if not our generation, then perhaps the next will see the fruits of this pollution on such a vast scale. It simply doesn’t make any sense to sit back and think everything is going to be fine, with these kind of things happening.


    dan | Aug 25, 2009 | Reply

  5. Try wikipedia before you make a post like this. You’re comment about the global cooling prediction of the 1970s is wrong.

    Jon | Aug 25, 2009 | Reply

  6. If you want to maintain your credibility, don’t use Wikipeda as a source.

    It’s fine for discovering the names of George Washington’s parents or the rectal temperature of a three toed sloth, but it is close to useless when there is any controversy about an issue. WikiNazis camp out on such pages, and will not allow any information they don’t like, no matter how true and accurate, to remain there.

    I’ve experienced this first hand, on a different issue:

    As for the prevalence of the Global Cooling scare of the ’70s, I was there. I lived through it. If you’re going to blame the media for getting it wrong (and they did) you need to consider that when discussing Global Warming as well.

    Dave Hitt | Sep 3, 2009 | Reply

  7. bacteria will eventually evolve that feed off plastics, problem solved (though we would then have to worry about what else that kind of bacteria will be able to do)

    seriously I don’t see why everyone gets all worked up about climate change and whatnot, if we screw up the ecosystem, it’ll just evolve to adapt to whatever we do it eventually, of course humans might not survive, but that’s what pisses me off about all this “green” crap, they make it sound like they are trying to save nature when in fact they are just trying to save humanity (which isn’t a bad thing)

    Dude | Sep 18, 2009 | Reply

  8. They’re not trying to save humanity. It is obvious by their actions that many of them despise their own species. So if they just let nature take it’s course, and let us wipe ourselves out, they’d get their wish sooner, rather than later.

    Dave Hitt | Sep 19, 2009 | Reply

  9. Wikipedia certainly has it’s problems and is certainly not the most authoritative of sources, but merely quoting it doesn’t diminish anybodies credibility. Most statements there are referenced and as support for arguments go it’s better then a person statement based on “I lived through it” If you want to take issue with somebodies use of that site you’ll actually have to show that particular page contains incomplete or wrong information by pointing to a better primary source. Preferable free and on-line so it’s available for everybody to verify your statements.

    I agree with you that we do have to make sure the media is actually reporting the story right. And we do indeed find that their reporting on most science issues is atrocious. However when we check their primary sources, and all the articles and reports published by the relevant scientists we do find that they’re making big mistakes. But mostly in two ways, by either saying that we’ll all going to die or by saying that there is real and significant debate whether it will happen, whether it is man made or not etc.

    While there is no real scientific debate over those points, It is already happening, it is man made, it will threaten 50% of all known species and place up to one billion humans at risk. That seems severe enough in it self to worry about. Now all these things can be managed to a greater and lesser degree. And it’s interesting to note that your list of EOTWAWKI contains several items that are proof of that.

    The Cold War, “Famine 1975″, Pollution, Flesh Eating Bacteria, Killer Bees, The Millennium Bug were all “EOTWAWKI” problems that were actively managed, that people tried to diffuse and did or continue to do significant economic damage.

    The Millennium Bug is an especially good example especially since you yourself noted what was done about that, “a massive program to fix software and replace old computers.” While your personal experiences less then impressive it’s still a good example of success. Some systems have higher stakes then transferring money.

    Global climate change or warming, or how people want to call it shouldn’t cause constant terror in individuals simply because there is little they themselves can do. But neither should it be dismissed sneeringly, you can’t manage or solve a problem that is sarcastically dismissed as just another fake scare. Terror? no. But seriously worried that our governments are not taking enough steps to solve or even manage it?


    Ernst | Oct 5, 2009 | Reply

  10. And as an after thought Nikki Alden shows us another good example what effect timely action and good problem management can have on EOTWAWKI items.

    In the west where prevention is actively promoted and medicine is made easily available with the result that Aids has become a rare and manageable if still incurable disease.

    In africa, without that important actions Aids has indeed been proven an actual real life EOTWAWKI, countries with 25% of the populace infected, their average lifespans halved, and a significant part of a generation growing up without mother, fathers, uncles or aunts.

    Not all EOTWAWKI’s aren’t imaginary like The Jupiter Effect or Armageddon, and we know that prevention is better then the alternative.

    Ernst | Oct 5, 2009 | Reply

  11. More recently it was the ebola scare. Everyone was in a tizzy about the unstoppable ebola virus.

    Larry Gott | Apr 29, 2015 | Reply

  12. Well, Larry, there were three whole people affected. Or was it four?

    Hittman | May 4, 2015 | Reply

  13. I believed that Y2K would result in mainly an increase of ATM robberies on or around December 31, 1999, as people withdrew their life savings in fear of its sudden disappearance, but not even that happened to my knowledge.

    Matthew Link | Jun 26, 2015 | Reply

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