The end of the world has fascinated me since I first came to believe in it. I was 17 at the time, and impressionable in such ways. But when my age reached double that figure, I had ceased to believe in any pre-ordained demise for the planet, and decided it might last beyond my own lifetime. The fact that the predicted date in which I believed (“before the year 2000”) came and went only made me more skeptical later on. But since the end is always fashionable with a lot of people, I thought I’d examine it.
Firstly, it’s empowering. The end is not about the end, it’s about the person believing in it. It puts the believer right where the real action is happening. “I, Halfpenny Lovegrove, am living at the culmination point of all human history. How cool is that?!”
Secondly, people who believe in the end have misplaced (a) the ability to self-question, and consequently (b) any real sense of their own possible absurdity. There is an ego inflation that happens, and it results in that greatest of human tragedies, the loss of one’s sense of humour.
Thirdly, an explicit end implies something like God, who has predetermined the last chapter of planet Earth (and additional segments of the cosmos, according to the believer’s preference and degree of paranoid imagination). God, while impossible to dismiss on grounds of pure logic, is hard to contact, and even harder to appreciate in anything but the most discouraging terms. How can any deity who plans to terminate his own creation be nice? Universal annihilation is a most unkind notion, and a lot of cute, furry animals will suffer as a result. Humans, too, for that matter.
So, we end up with not one but two distasteful concepts, as well as a fixation on grim stuff generally, and the pointlessness of any human endeavour, like brushing your teeth or saving stray dogs. (NB: dogs will be a key factor in this blog, so be forewarned).
Lastly, while ecological disaster, major climatic shifts and population explosions will happen quite soon, along with pandemics, earthquakes and persistent rumours of a new Star Trek TV series, an actual, total Adios to the planet is scientifically unlikely. Analyse the predictions of any religious sect and you’ll find the vast majority never panned out. The occasional one that does must be balanced against the predictive bloopers. And don’t get me started on futurists.
Oops, too late: I’m started on futurists. Maybe I’ll deal with them in a separate post.