By then I had begun to notice that this terrible future was not all that bad. In fact every single one of the dooms I had been threatened with had proved either false or exaggerated. The population explosion was slowing down, famine had largely been conquered (except in war-torn tyrannies), India was exporting food, cancer rates were falling not rising (adjusted for age), the Sahel was greening, the climate was warming, oil was abundant, air pollution was falling fast, nuclear disarmament was proceeding apace, forests were thriving, sperm counts had not fallen. And above all, prosperity and freedom were advancing at the expense of poverty and tyranny.
Congratulations, we all survived another apocalypse. In case you missed it, religious radio broadcaster and preacher, Harold Camping, had predicted the end of the world today. Since this was supposed to occur at 6pm local time around the world, and it is now well past that time, it looks like we have escaped another media hyped prediction of catastrophe and doom.
Bad news sells, and the media thrives on bizarre stories of gloom and doom. Who is Harold Camping? Why was his prediction heeded and got so much play? Not sure that these questions matter anyway. The reality we face is that the pessimists dominate the airwaves. And there are always existential threats to our well being. As an example, just look at the chart below. It’s a prediction that population growth will overwhelm our capacity to feed.
Photographed by Lauren Manning
As an unabashed optimist, I was relieved to find the article linked above. Matt Ridley does a good job of probing the question of why we are surrounded by those predicting our imminent demise, rather than recognizing the amazing progress of society. Stop and think for a moment about how fast the world is changing around us. Think about how much more advanced we are, how much more informed we are, how much healthier we are, and you will realize there is indeed a lot to celebrate!
Now back to worrying about the May 12, 2012, the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mayan Mesoamerican long calendar, and the next predicted day of doom. That is assuming we don’t get another prediction before then! LOL.