How do you think the world will end?
With a bang, a whimper or something in between?
As you might imagine, we doomers spend quite a bit of time mulling this over. There is no real consensus, and as the doomsday preppers show, it can be a problem to get too attached to one particular scenario.
My guess is that it will be all of the above. By the end of the endgame, the world will look a lot like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Everything will be dead….water, soil and all life on earth. Eventually, the nuclear plants will all go Fukushima, irradiate everything, and that will be that.
Part of the bang theory includes marauding hordes, FEMA camps, martial law, civil unrest and so on. I suspect this part will happen once the grid goes down for good.
The whimper theory is already in play. We’re seeing fresh outbreaks of polio, SARS, bird flu and other nasties, along with tuberculosis that is totally drug resistant. The supply chain for antibiotics and other meds is shaky already, with medical professionals complaining about their ability to get the drugs they need. Governments have been decimating the public health system that was built after the 1918 global flu epidemic wiped out millions. There is no safety net anymore.
Hanover is leaking. Fukushima is leaking. Chernobyl is leaking. And those are the ones we know about. Who knows what is happening at nuclear sites around the world?
Grain supplies are at an all-time low, due to the extreme drought of last year. That drought is expected to last this year as well. We know that when people start starving, they move to cities and the cities become overwhelmed; cholera, typhoid, pneumonia, TB, and other opportunistic diseases begin to run rampant.
The climate catastrophe goes ignored. Permafrost is melting at rates that have surprised the scientists yet again, contributing more CO2 into the atmosphere. Artic ice will be gone very soon.
Those surprised scientists are of concern, as well. How many times are you surprised before you start questioning your basic assumptions? Like, we can keep industrial civilization going and still lower CO2 emissions, like Bill McKibben says.
Another assumption is that we have not yet passed the dreaded tipping point. Few are saying this out loud, but it seems a fairly logical assumption that we are past the point of no return. Let’s just take one example: the permafrost situation. This is a great example of the so-called “positive feedback loop” but is actually what we in the real world call a “vicious cycle/circle”. A warmer earth starts the permafrost to melting, which releases even more CO2 into the atmosphere, which causes the earth to warm, which causes the permafrost to melt more. Methane works the same way, only its emissions are a far more powerful greenhouse gas (in the short term, which is about 100 years). Scientists are surprised at the methane situation as well. These are only two examples of positive feedback loops; there are more.
Of course, we must assume that we know nothing more than the powers that be, and the powers that be are not doing a goddamn thing to stop the climate catastrophe. It is business as usual.
So the east coast had just better get used to the big storms and the rising ocean. The west coast will be deluged with Fukushima radiation by 2021. The gulf is an oil slick. To the north of us are the tar sands, and that pipeline carrying all of that icky, poisonous bitumen will be approved because profit is more important that a living world.
The late great Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Denial is America’s 51st State.” He was right.
While we play with our smart phones, the world burns.