Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Apocalypse Now, News at Eleven

I have a long held fascination with fiction concerning the end of the world, and what happens the day after. (My reference list of interesting apocalyptic literature is too long to go into here, so I'll just toss out a couple examples: Alas Babylon and Battlestar Galactica). The news recently have provided a cornucopia of scenarios along those lines, all of them far too real. Food shortages and debates over potential food shortages caused by climate change, lifestyle and population shifts, and the desire for biofuel have been all over the headlines for the past few weeks (too many stories to link, consult your local Google). There are warnings that a flu pandemic remains possible. A cyclone devastated Myanmar, with the death toll running on the order of tens of thousands. A volcano that had lay dormant for nine thousand years sends ash twenty miles into the air and hundreds of miles across the continent. Volcano eruptions have always been impressive sights, but the ones from this eruption are truly awe inspiring.

If collapse-of-civilization stories have any morals, they are that we should appreciate what we have and learn to work together instead of against each other. But, for some the lessons of the old tales remain unheard. Reports also tell of a return of the survivalist movement, though perhaps less drastic than in the heydays of nuclear fear.

The parallel fear and paranoia are there. Nuclear war then, terrorism and a rebelling planet now. So stash a couple of gallons/liters of water and a good first aid kit in your house, and keep them fresh. It won't hurt anything. Don't forget to tell your loved ones how you feel about them, and be nice to your neighbors. After all, the threads that bind civilization together are as frail as they ever were, and through it all, people remain people.

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