Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The End is Nearer Than You Think

Those Republicans candidates fighting over the 2012 presidential nomination are nothing more than ants on a small anthill, and the ants will be here after the politicians – and the rest of us – are gone. 

The preachers and evangelists shrilly announcing their beliefs, burning Korans or other performing other mischief are as important as crickets sawing their hind legs in the forest.  Those insects, too, will be around a lot longer than a single sermon.

The end is near, and not just because Jesus is returning.  He isn’t.  No Gabriel will blow a trumpet.  He is not needed anyway.  It’s already sounded.

This week, scientists announced that the oceans are in crisis.  The news came out of a ‘State of the Oceans’ workshop co-hosted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  The program was supposedly the first “to consider the cumulative impact of all pressures on the oceans.”
The findings blare louder than anything an angel can produce on a trumpet: the seas are deteriorating at a faster rate than ever imagined, leaving most creatures on them on the brink of extinction. 

When they go, we go.

In truth, the findings are not new.  Scientists examining the data have been warning anyone who would listen for years about the coming disaster. 

We should have known it anyway.  There’s a basic truth about life on Earth.  When a type of animal dwindles down to a single species, the odds for survival are too great.  At one time, about 40,000 years ago, there were other humans – Neanderthal, Hobbits and whatever the Siberian humanoid is called.  Now, there is just one, which we arrogantly named Homo Sapien Sapien.  That’s “wise, wise man.” 

Actually, we’re pretty dumb.  We refuse to focus on what is important, such as sustaining life on this planet, to argue about nuances in philosophy or who should win an election.  If there’s no planet, who cares?

The Bush Administration even demanded that scientists bowdlerize a report on Global Warning, as if that would make the problem go away.  We can argue all we want about whether the situation is man-made or natural.  Who cares?  It’s real, and unless we take drastic steps to counter it – or, at least, mitigate the problem – then it will only get worse.

Humans, however, don’t have much of a track record when required to reduce creature comforts.  Look at Greece, where people are rioting because of austerity measures necessary to tame the economy.  In Vancouver, thousands caused immense damage simply because the hockey team there lost in the finals.  As if it mattered who won or lost.

We’ll all find out soon enough how nonsensical much of our nattering is when the fish start dying, when the plankton disappears, when the oceans turn into dead zones – becoming gigantic versions of much of the Gulf of Mexico, which has huge dead zones.

I am reminded of a scene from Inherit the Wind, the great play and movie about the Scopes trial in Daytona, Tennessee in 1925.  In the scene, Clarence Darrow, played by Spencer Tracy as Henry Drummond, asks William Jennings Bryan, played by Fredric March as Matthew Harrison Brady, what happened when the Earth stood still as the Bible describes.  Tracy points out that if such an event actually happened, mountains would have toppled, seas would have dried up and the Earth would have been destroyed.

Tracy then concluded by asking how the Bible “missed that little tidbit.”

No worries now.  While candidates caterwaul and preachers pontificate, the Earth will be destroyed.

No one will miss it this time.

Bill Lazarus is a religious historian who writes on current topics.  You can find his books on Amazon.com, Kindle and on his website, www.williamplazarus.com.

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