Saturday, 19th of March, 2011
Following an incredible Sichuan style hotpot and a small glass of Chinese rice wine that my mate brought back from a recent visit to his home country for the Chinese New Year, he shared with me a story from earlier that day.
He had bumped into someone he knew from the church he used to attend who had asked him if had still been attending – she hadn’t seem him for quite a few years. On admitting that it was no longer of much interest, he got the most wonderful guilt beat down; hadn’t he been paying attention? All the fires, earthquakes, hurricanes / cyclones, floods and droughts – it was a sign of End of Days and he was making a terrible decision by turning his back on Christ when the end was so near.
Forget of course, tectonic plate movement, weather patterns and the very likely influence of changing climate…
Sunday, 20th of March 2011
I really should’ve risked being told off for taking photo of the blurb to book I picked up on a table devoted to the Mayan calendar, because it was hysterical. As like the bible nut above, the recent natural disasters were considered as evidence, but in this case of the validity of the “Mayan prediction”. Of course, like Armageddon, this time will also lead to a golden age…
And we’re suppose to remain respectful of such beliefs?
My mate – a working biological scientist – is berated through an irrational guilt trip because he’s not submitting to some mystical link in environmental events!
While scanning over the books laid out on the table I couldn’t help but think, “in two years, all these books will be outdated…”
And quite frankly, I can’t wait.
Most doomsdayers don’t have a date – it’s whatever odd link they can patchwork together, but the Mayan’s calendar crowd don’t have much room to move. Hopefully when the sky doesn’t fall, at least some of these people might be interested in looking at the data, collected through scientific methodology, with clearer perception and realise that no, the world is unlikely to end for at least a few billion years, but do we really like the kind of world that our impacts are creating?
Although some readers would like to accuse me being a doomsdayer myself, I don’t really buy into a lot of that. If we maintain business-as-usual as long as possible (remembering fossil fuels will need to start being phased out within a couple decades regardless simply due to growing costs) we may lead to an Anthropocene as different to the Holocene as the Holocene is to the previous ice age (about 5oC between each) – certainly survivable, but very different. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, climate change is if anything a secondary impact on species and ecosystems, of which many could adapt to (at least the lower warming predictions) were it not for other human impacts that are in themselves, bad enough.
Ignoring all this and acting sluggishly isn’t leading to doom – just a far more expensive and ill-equipped future for human activity. The practical, even selfishly humanistic, choice would be to try to enjoy the ride as long as possible – business-as-usual isn’t that option. I know I harp on about all this – but a weekend with such examples leads me to wonder how enlightened we really are. It would be nice to know that we didn’t need absolutes and dates, such as with the doomsdayers above, but could handle uncertainty and meaningful risk management intelligently.
Let’s hope by 2013 a few more are willing to exploit their critical awareness beyond the Mayan calendar – we may be a step closer to a genuine “golden age”. 🙂