The End of the World 

Thursday, July 3, 2014, 06:20 PM - Philosophy
Posted by Seven


For the last few years, word of massive bee die-offs has hit various news sources and the internet fringe has picked the story up and run with it. These are the same people that shout so loudly and constantly about the end of the world that you'd think they're actually hoping it happens. There are images and memes being created constantly blaming everything from Monsanto's nicotine-based pesticides to the now defunct HAARP program.

But there is a small fact that nobody mentions. There are other species of insect that also can pollinate and nature has a way of filling voids. If all the bees die, the insects they were pushing out of the way to get to that sweet nectar would begin consuming it, as NO food source goes unused in nature, especially almost pure sugar. They would get covered in pollen in the process, the same as bees do now, and pass it on to the next flower. Bees happen to fill this niche because they are bigger and more aggressive than other insects that would take their place if they were no longer here. Underestimating the mechanisms that have kept this planet green and life-sustaining for millions of years seems to be the norm these days and people forget that plant life not only existed, but thrived well before the bee came onto the scene and grew with such abundance that gargantuan dinosaurs could feed constantly and never worry about depleting their food supply.

There's a lot of fear-mongering going on, and while it is distressing that bees are dying by the billion across the country, I'm not so sure it will be the end of days if they die out. Perhaps it would cause problems initially, but many plants are wind pollinated too... quite a lot of the plants we eat actually. Of course I'm not saying nothing should be done to stop the problem, but I also wouldn't let fear get in the way of rationality and judgement. I just find it odd that people are always so eager to declare that the world is ending, and that brings me to my main point.

This list is from Wikipedia and shows a timeline for every recorded end of the world prediction and it's fascinating how the end of the world was just around the corner since the beginning of recorded history.

End of the world predictions.

One of the worst examples of "End of the world" proselytizing was the story of the Millerites. William Miller headed a fairly large congregation as a lay-preacher and through some complicated, obfuscated, and entirely proprietary math, determined that the world would come to an end on April 28th, 1843 after many years of studying events and timelines in the Bible. This would later be revised to October 22nd, 1844. On that date, his congregation sold all their possessions, and stood all day on the edge of a cliff hoping to see their savior ride down from heaven on a white horse to begin a new age.


William Miller preaching.

Unfortunately for them, that never happened and many were left destitute, disillusioned and quite a few lost their faith entirely. The event came to be known as The Great Disappointment and this was not the last time this exact set of events would be played out, with the antics of Harold Camping being one of the more recent examples.

So why do we have this insatiable desire for the world to end and for everything to be destroyed? Arguably one of the biggest genres in modern fiction is the "Zombie Apocalypse" with shows like "The Walking Dead" being the largest grossing television series in the history of the medium. Movies like "Deep Impact", "Armageddon", "Independence Day", "World War Z", all 50 or so living dead and zombie films, "The Road", and "I am Legend" are just a miniscule fraction of these along with book series like "Metro 2033" and "Left Behind". I'm sure you can find massive lists of apocalyptic books, TV, and movies across the net but putting an entire list of such media here would be beyond exhaustive, so I won't. There's just something about the struggle to survive that is innately compelling to the average person, almost as if there was some deep yearning for a simpler life where all vestiges of the modern world melt away. Why else would images of abandoned buildings and ghost towns be so popular as works of art?

The one thing we can be sure of, is that the world is not ending. At least not until our star goes supernova and expands to consume the planet in 5 billion years. Until then, as George Carlin put it, "The world isn't going anywhere, We are".

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