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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The End of the World is Nigh!

Does anyone else wonder about the seemingly endless stream of films and books, rumours, stories, news reports (sometimes) that keep proclaiming the ultimate doomsday scenario?

I can remember reading my first one's in this vein back in the 1960s. Then it was The Bomb that was going to blow us all away and render the planet uninhabitable. There were also the "natural" disaster tales, usually involving an event triggered by some scientific experiment going wrong. We had genetically engineered plants turning vicious in "The Day of the Triffids" and "On the Beach," "The Wind from Nowhere" and "The Kraken Wakes." We've seen all the endless CND campaigns, most of them based on fear and a passionate embracing of press release summaries of scientific reports which cherry picked the doomsday results rather then presenting a balanced picture of what was reported.

I confess I have often been surprised by just how badly spun some reports, even in supposedly "scientific" magazines and journals can be. Perhaps I shouldn't be. After all a report which says that scientists have evidence which suggests that, if you aren't killed in the initial blast of a nuclear attack and survive the initial radiation sickness plus any infection caught because your system was fighting radiation poisoning, you would probably live to ripe old age. Yes, it is in fact born out by many Japanese survivors of Hiroshima, some of whom were evacuated to Nagasaki and hit a second time! There does seem to be a large element of the population that enjoys being scared witless over things that are on the very extreme edges of liklihood. Once the fear of "The Bomb" abated in the late 1970s we began to see the advent of more and more "natural" disaster stories. These included in more recent years "Deep Impact,""The Day after Tomorrow" and several more including the one based on the super volcano under Yellowstone National Park blowing its top, the spectacle of using nukes to blow an asteroid off course and others. Another favourite scenario - one seized on by Al Gore and NASA's Hansen, is that rising CO2 levels will turn the planet into another Venus, choked by a toxic, superhot atmosphere so acidic it eats metal ...

The real trouble is that many of those watching these movies seem to think they are based on fact. "The Day after Tomorrow" went down the road of combining a new Ice Age caused by the sudden formation of massive "hurricanes" in the upper atmosphere which dragged super cold air downward, with a massive rise in sea levels, flooding New York's 5th Avenue with enough depth to float a super tanker along it. Sorry, but that is about as likely as Arnie Schwartzneger giving birth ... Oh, I forgot, he did in another Hollywood improbable. Unfortunately far to many think the science they see in them is real science and not Hollywood abuse of science and fact. It is these folk who respond to the Greenpeace, Fiends of the Earth, Oxfam and the plethora of other "advocacy NGOs" propaganda with the knee jerk "Oh my God! Here, take all my money - but get out there and save the ..."

It is also this kind of insidious doomsday messaging which feeds into the sort of "activist" psyche that many otherwise intelligent people in the West seem to develop once they begin to fixate on the drip feed of doomsday news that the UK media in particular seems to revel in. It is fed by the constant mantra that we can all live in some sort of non-industrial Utopia with the abolition of poverty and a wonderful agrarian and tolerant society enjoying an eternally unchanging climate, if only we ban all private transport, and flying is reserved only for those who need to attend a Jamboree to save us all from some new doomsday scenario somewhere (preferably somewhere exotic) and everyone else is restricted to within walking distance of their normal domicile.

And let us not forget that we, in the "developed" nations, must give all our money to fund these same "Green Elite" so that they can "redistribute" it to those we have supposedly "disadvantaged" in accumulating it.

Failure to do so will, of course, result in our cities being submerged beneath the threatened rise in the sea level as all the planets ice is melted down... Greenpeace in particular seems to like that image. I've seen a map which showed what bits of the UK would be above water "when all the Arctic  and Antarctic ice vanishes by the end of the century. Considering that we are talking about literally millions of cubic kilometers of ice - much of it already in the water in the Northern Hemisphere and therefore not likely to affect sealevels at all - there is a possibility it would submerge us to the depth they predict. Except for one small point.

The timescale is off by several thousand years. One scientist actually calculated that, at present rate of melt, and assuming no new ice forms, it would require 15,000 years just to melt all the ice in Greenland.

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