"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Apocalypse Not:

A link to a link to a link.

Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That? has just posted
 Apocalypse Not: I love the smell of skepticism in the morning,

which in turn links to an essay by Matt Ridley in WIRED Magazine ...
 Apocalypse Not: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry About End Times

WHO or WHAT will cause the 2012 Apocalyse? This is the question posed by the website 2012apocalypse.net. “super volcanos? pestilence and disease? asteroids? comets? antichrist? global warming? nuclear war?” the site’s authors are impressively open-minded about the cause of the catastrophe that is coming at 11:11 pm on December 21 this year*. but they have no doubt it will happen. after all, not only does the Mayan Long Count calendar end that day, but “the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in about 26,000 years.”
Case closed: Sell your possessions and live for today.

That is the prompt for Mr. Ridley's essay and he replies ...
When the sun rises on December 22, as it surely will, do not expect apologies or even a rethink. No matter how often apocalyptic predictions fail to come true, another one soon arrives.

The "money quote" is ...
Over the five decades since the success of Rachel Carson’s "Silent Spring" in 1962 and the four decades since the success of the Club of Rome’s "The Limits to Growth" in 1972, prophecies of doom on a colossal scale have become routine. Indeed, we seem to crave ever-more-frightening predictions—we are now, in writer Gary Alexander’s word, apocaholic. The past half century has brought us warnings of population explosions, global famines, plagues, water wars, oil exhaustion, mineral shortages, falling sperm counts, thinning ozone, acidifying rain, nuclear winters, Y2K bugs, mad cow epidemics, killer bees, sex-change fish, cell-phone-induced brain-cancer epidemics, and climate catastrophes.

So far all of these specters have turned out to be exaggerated. True, we have encountered obstacles, public-health emergencies, and even mass tragedies. But the promised Armageddons—the thresholds that cannot be uncrossed, the tipping points that cannot be untipped, the existential threats to Life as We Know It—have consistently failed to materialize. To see the full depth of our apocaholism, and to understand why we keep getting it so wrong, we need to consult the past 50 years of history.

Mr. Ridley then proceeds to lay out his case in examples from that history.

My conclusion from reading them?

If your thinking of the "Case closed:" scenario above, and maxing out your credit cards in an orgy (perhaps literally?) of fun and games and whatever, the odds are that on Dec 22, there will be a "morning after" (in all senses of that term). the new bills will still be there and will still be due.

So, you may want to reconsider. :(

(* - at 11:11 pm on December 21 this year)
 "Is that Eastern Standard Time?"
   ~Arnold Schwarzenegger as Jericho Cain in "End of Days",
      when warned about an apocalyptic event predicted for
      the end of the millennium.


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