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Archive for the ‘Millenarianism’ Category

Human Extinction ahead and the End of the World as we Know it

resourcewars

The eminent Australian scientist Frank Fenner, who passed away in late 2010, made some surprisingly unsurprising predictions right before his death. Writing on the web-based science, research and technology news service Phys.org, Lin Edwards put forward that Professor Fenner “predicts humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction and climate change”.[1] As such, this apparently shocking statement should not come as a surprise to anybody . . . given that estimates indicate that the availability of drinking water will become problematic by the year 2040 and that the supply of foodstuffs will arguably falter in about ten years from then, or by 2050 . . . underpinning such dire estimations are the prospects of the sustained growth of the human population in the coming century. The world’s leading resource for events, research, and insight into the global agricultural investment sector Global AgInvesting (or GAI) released a report in 2012 (entitled simply, World Population Growth in the 21st Century) that put the population increase into perspective: “[t]he world’s human population does not grow linearly, but rather geometrically, (i.e., 1, 2, 4, 8, 16…, etc.) which explains the five-fold increase in population from 1.2 billion to 6.1 billion during the 20th Century. Rapid population growth is predicted to continue for the first half of the 21st century, with rates of growth declining during the latter half of the century. World population is projected to stabilize at just over 10.1 billion by 2100”.[2] More than 10 billion people without easy or even direct access to either drinking water or food, to be precise. That is, as things stand today.

worldpopulat

most-populous-countries-2100

Edwards continues her piece by stating that Professor Fenner has “said [that] homo sapiens will not be able to survive the population explosion and ‘unbridled consumption’, and will become extinct, perhaps within a century, along with many other species. United Nations official figures from last year [i.e. 2011] estimate the human population is 6.8 billion, and is predicted to pass seven billion next year. Fenner told The Australian he tries not to express his pessimism because people are trying to do something, but keep putting it off. He said he believes the situation is irreversible, and it is too late because the effects we have had on Earth since industrialization (a period now known to scientists unofficially as the Anthropocene) rivals any effects of ice ages or comet impacts”.[3] The report World Population Growth in the 21st Century puts it like this: The “rapid growth [of the human population] is expected [to occur] in the next 40 years, and will likely place a huge burden on global resources and the agriculture sector in particular”.[4] Professor Fenner himself told the press that “We’ll undergo the same fate as the people on Easter Island, there will be a lot more wars over food”,[5] aka resource wars-in-the-extreme. Lin Edwards then goes on to explain Fenner’s analogy: the “Easter Island is famous for its massive stone statues. Polynesian people settled there, in what was then a pristine tropical island, around the middle of the first millennium AD. The population grew slowly at first and then exploded. As the population grew the forests were wiped out and all the tree animals became extinct, both with devastating consequences. After about 1600 the civilization began to collapse, and had virtually disappeared by the mid-19th century. Evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond said the parallels between what happened on Easter Island and what is occurring today on the planet as a whole are ‘chillingly obvious'”.[6]

easter_island_oped

At the end of 2010, I wrote a piece appropriately headlined “Easter Island as a metaphor” and in it I tried to come to terms with what had happened to the island and how these events appear to predict the fate of the planet as a whole: “[w]hen Europeans arrived on the island it was utterly treeless. Pollen analysis has revealed however that the island was ‘almost totally’ forested until about the year 1200. But now the island is barren. A volcanic crater on the island’s eastern plain, Rano Raraku, provided the source of the sideromelane (basaltic) tuff from which 95% of the statues were carved. Some 250 mo‘ai [or Easter Island statues] are found in an almost unbroken line around the perimeter of the island, while 600 others in various stages of completion are scattered around the island. It is hard to imagine that this now barren island was once covered with trees and forests, but as wood and other tree materials were needed to transport the mo‘ai, trees had to be cut down and forests subsequently disappeared. In view of this rapacious resource depletion executed in the space of two and a half centuries, the locals devised narratives that managed to minimize the role of humans destroying the island’s abundant forests. The environmentally concerned physicist Adam Frank, on the other hand, relates in a matter-of-fact voice that the ‘need for trees, rope, and food to maintain a population of laborers eventually led to the destruction of the very forests the islanders depended on. After the forests were gone erosion took the soil too. What followed was Easter Island collapsing into starvation, warfare and cannibalism. The chance of escape disappeared too as seafaring canoes require large trees for their hulls'”.[7] Edwards, for her part, adds that “many scientists are also pessimistic, [but] others are more optimistic”.[8] She cites Professor Stephen Boyden as an example of the latter and predictably, he has come out to state that “[w]hile there’s a glimmer of hope, it’s worth working to solve the problem. We have the scientific knowledge to do it but we don’t have the political will”.[9] The other side of the coin is represented by somebody like the English writer and erstwhile green activist Paul Kingsnorth, who spent about two decades striving to save the planet as an activist in the environmental movement. But once he turned 40, he had an epiphany of sorts and threw out the baby with the bathwater, some would argue . . . he wrote an essay that ended with the following words: “It’s all fine. I withdraw, you see. I withdraw from the campaigning and the marching . . . I am leaving. I am going to go out walking”.[10] Together with Dougald Hine, he penned UNCIVILISATION: The Dark Mountain Manifesto,[11]

Uncivilisation

“These are precarious and unprecedented times . . . Little that we have taken for granted is likely to come through this century intact.

We don’t believe that anyone — not politicians, not economists, not environmentalists, not writers — is really facing up to the scale of this … Somehow, technology or political agreements or ethical shopping or mass protest are meant to save our civilization from self-destruction.

Well, we don’t buy it. This project starts with our sense that civilization as we have known it is coming to an end; brought down by a rapidly changing climate, a cancerous economic system and the ongoing mass destruction of the non-human world. But it is driven by our belief that this age of collapse — which is already beginning — could also offer a new start, if we are careful in our choices.

The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop”.[12]

end-of-the-world

 

 

[1] Lin Edwards, “Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist” Phys.org (23 July 2010). http://phys.org/news/2010-06-humans-extinct-years-eminent-scientist.html#jCp.

[2] World Population Growth in the 21st Century (23 March 2012), p. 3. http://www.globalaginvesting.com/downloads/files/World-Population-Growth-in-the-21st-Century-277F.pdf.

[3] Lin Edwards, “Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist”.

[4] World Population Growth in the 21st Century, p. 3.

[5] Lin Edwards, “Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist”.

[6] Lin Edwards, “Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist”.

[7] C. Erimtan, “Easter Island as a metaphor: resource depletion, climate change and the word of God” Today’s Zaman (21 December 2010). http://www.todayszaman.com/op-ed_easter-island-as-a-metaphor-resource-depletion-climate-change-and-the-word-of-god-by-can-eri-mtan-_229397.html.

[8] Lin Edwards, “Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist”.

[9] Lin Edwards, “Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist”.

[10] Wen Stephenson ,”‘I withdraw’: A talk with climate defeatist Paul Kingsnorth” Grist 50 (11 Apr 2012). http://grist.org/climate-energy/i-withdraw-a-talk-with-climate-defeatist-paul-kingsnorth/.

[11] The Dark Mountain Project. http://dark-mountain.net/about/manifesto/.

[12] Wen Stephenson ,”‘I withdraw’: A talk with climate defeatist Paul Kingsnorth”.

A Married Jesus and the Meaning of Christian Life: Coptic Claims

In the esteemed Harvard Gazette B. D. Colen writes: “Four words on a previously unknown papyrus fragment provide the first evidence that some early Christians believed Jesus had been married, Harvard Professor Karen King told the 10th International Congress of Coptic Studies” on Tuesday, 18 September 2012.[1]  Colen elaborates that Karen “King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, announced the existence of the ancient text at the congress’ meeting, held every four years and hosted this year by the Vatican’s Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome. The four words that appear on the fragment translate to “Jesus said to them, my wife.” The words, written in Coptic, a language of Egyptian Christians, are on a papyrus fragment of about one and a half inches by three inches”.[2]

Professor King elucidates that “Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was not married, even though no reliable historical evidence exists to support that claim. This new gospel doesn’t prove that Jesus was married, but it tells us that the whole question only came up as part of vociferous debates about sexuality and marriage. From the very beginning, Christians disagreed about whether it was better not to marry, but it was over a century after Jesus’ death before they began appealing to Jesus’ marital status to support their positions”.[3]  Christianity, as the conceptual edifice built by the overtly misogynistic Saint Paul, has always had ambivalent feelings about issues relating to love and marriage, celibacy, the role of women and the meaning of life. Does man live solely to enter the next life in the heavenly kingdom or should he consider his sojourn on this mortal coil as equally valid and meaningful???  Celibacy, as a life style, clearly favours the former view. And there have been examples of excesses in early Christian history. The case of Origen of Alexandria springs to mind. It seems that the saintly figure had been inspired by Matthew 19:12 to castrate himself: “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it”.[4]  The King James translation seems to make it quite plain that celibacy could be considered a safe way to enter the heavenly kingdom. In the end, however, the pragmatic view that life on this mortal coil also deserves human sacrifice and hardship, as possibly symbolised in the institution of marriage necessarily leading to human reproduction, prevailed. As a result, the continuation of the human race was guaranteed and the figure of God in heaven remained unassailable. This then left Jesus as the ultimate example to be followed by those Christians deemed extremely pious and other-worldly, such as monks and nuns.

Now the whole debate in connection with the meaning of Christian life, as condensed in the issue of marriage or celibacy, has been reduced to squibbles about Jesus’ marital status . . . In conclusion, Professor King states that the “discovery of this new gospel offers an occasion to rethink what we thought we knew by asking what role claims about Jesus’ marital status played historically in early Christian controversies over marriage, celibacy, and family. Christian tradition preserved only those voices that claimed Jesus never married. The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife now shows that some Christians thought otherwise”.[5]


[1] B. D. Colen, “Suggestion of a married Jesus” Harvard Gazette (18 September 2012).  http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/09/suggestion-of-a-married-jesus/.

[2] B. D. Colen, “Suggestion of a married Jesus”.

[3] B. D. Colen, “Suggestion of a married Jesus”.

[4] “Matthew 19:12” Biblos. http://bible.cc/matthew/19-12.htm.

[5] B. D. Colen, “Suggestion of a married Jesus”.

An Asteroid Impact Can Ruin Your Whole Day. And Your Species

Phil Plait is an astronomer, author, and science advocate. His blog, Bad Astronomy, is hosted by Discover Magazine, and he writes about news and current issues facing science. A common topic is astronomical doomsday: ways mythical and real the world can end. He’s fascinated by asteroid and comet impacts, and is a big supporter of finding, tracking, and ultimately deflecting any dangerous rocks heading our way. He spoke on this topic in Boulder on 11 October 2011.

 

Apophis is of concern, and the inimitable astrophycist Neil deGrasse Tyson has already spoken about this celestial body with great verve, conviction, and humour. On 19 February 2008, he expounded on Apophis, while visiting California.

 

NASA’s Near Earth Object Program optimistically proclaims that the ‘future for Apophis on Friday, April 13 of 2029 includes an approach to Earth no closer than 29,470 km (18,300 miles, or 5.6 Earth radii from the center, or 4.6 Earth-radii from the surface) over the mid-Atlantic, appearing to the naked eye as a moderately bright point of light moving rapidly across the sky. Depending on its mechanical nature, it could experience shape or spin-state alteration due to tidal forces caused by Earth’s gravity field. This is within the distance of Earth’s geosynchronous satellites. However, because Apophis will pass interior to the positions of these satellites at closest approach, in a plane inclined at 40 degrees to the Earth’s equator and passing outside the equatorial geosynchronous zone when crossing the equatorial plane, it does not threaten the satellites in that heavily populated region. Using criteria developed in this research, new measurements possible in 2013 (if not 2011) will likely confirm that in 2036 Apophis will quietly pass more than 49 million km (30.5 million miles; 0.32 AU) from Earth on Easter Sunday of that year (April 13)’.[1]

 


[1] “Predicting Apophis’ Earth Encounters in 2029 and 2036” Near Earth Object Program. http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/apophis/.

147 Corporations Run the World

Thom Hartmann: Clusters can be deadly in nature – but what about in an economy? I’ll break down a *new* scientific study which proves our global economy has clustered – and is now truly under the control of a few “bankster” puppeteers!

The article in the New Scientist that Hartmann was alluding to states that an “analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy”.[1]

In the periodical ScienceNews, Rachel Ehrenberg succinctly summarises the argument developed by the researchers in their paper “The Network of Global Corporate Control”,[2]  as follows: “Conventional wisdom says a few sticky, fat fingers control a disproportionate slice of the world economy’s pie. A new analysis suggests that the conventional wisdom is right on the money. Diagramming the relationships between more than 43,000 corporations reveals a tightly connected core of top economic actors. In 2007, a mere 147 companies controlled nearly 40 percent of the monetary value of all transnational corporations, researchers report in a paper published online July 28 at arXiv.org”.[3]

And to illustrate the issue at hand, here is SERCO, the largest company you’ve never heard of or a network or cluster that combines an incredible numbers of services and industries on a truly global scale: ‘As well as thanking God for his success, Serco CEO Chris Hyman is a Pentecostal Christian who has released a gospel album in America and fasts every Tuesday. Coincidentally he was in the World Trade Centre on 9/11 on the 47th floor addressing shareholders. Serco runs navy patrol boats for the ADF, as well as search and salvage operations through their partnership with P&O which form Maritime Defence Services. Serco runs two Australian Jails already, Acacia in WA and Borallon in Queensland. They are one of the biggest companies in the UK for running electronic tagging of offenders under house arrest or parole. Serco are in one of the two favoured bid consortiums for the new Sydney metro rail line’.

On its website, the company presents itself as follows: ‘Serco improves the quality and efficiency of essential services that matter to millions of people around the world. The work we do for national and local governments involves us in the most important areas of public service, including health, education, transport, science and defence. Our private sector customers are industry-leading organisations in a wide variety of markets. We have nearly 50 years’ experience of helping our customers achieve their goals. Many want us to improve their productivity and service quality. Others need us to support their rapid growth. Government customers face crucial issues such as economic development, congestion, security and climate change. They value the innovation and passion we bring to these challenges, and the collaborative, flexible and imaginative way we work. Serco is a values-led company with a culture and ethos that is at the heart of everything we do. We give our people real responsibility, allowing them to put their ideas into practice and to truly make a difference for our customers and the public. Our approach has made us one of the world’s leading service companies and our vision is to be the world’s greatest. Our service ethos means that our customers come back to us again and again. These long-term relationships help us to meet their changing needs and to do what we do best . . . bringing service to life’.[4]  The Guardian’s Jane Martinson describes Serco’s CEO as an “Indian Pentecostal Christian from South Africa, Hyman is an unusual chief executive in many ways, not least his enthusiasm for what he calls the values of doing business. He gave a speech on the subject at the Business in the Community conference [in 2005] which made seasoned executives sit up and take notice, such was his enthusiasm for putting people first so that the rest – profits, investors, power – would follow”.[5]

 


[1] Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie, “Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world” New Scientist (24 October
2011). http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228354.500-revealed–the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world.html.

[2] Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattefelder, and Stefano Battiston, “The Network of Global Corporate Control” PLOS ONE (2011). http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1107/1107.5728v2.pdf.

[3] Rachel Ehrenberg, “Financial world dominated by a few deep pockets” ScienceNews (24 September 2011). http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/333389/title/Financial_world_dominated_by_a_few_deep_pockets.

[4] “About Us” Serco. http://www.serco.com/about/index.asp.

[5] Jane Martinson, “Happy, touchy-feely and driven by God” The Guardian (24 February 2006). http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2006/feb/24/columnists.guardiancolumnists.

Faith & Freedom Coalition: God is Back, Once Again

Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates on Friday appealed to the religious right to help them defeat President Barack Obama in the 2012 election. They spoke at a meeting of an organization that was formed to restore the influence that conservative Christian voters once had in choosing presidents (21 June 2011).

 On its dedicated website the Coalition declares: ‘We believe that the greatness of America lies not in the federal government but in the character of our people — the simple virtues of faith, hard work, marriage, family, personal responsibility, and helping the least among us. If we lose sight of these values, America will cease to be great. Never before has it been more critical for us to speak out for these values. That is why the Faith and Freedom Coalition is committed to educating, equipping, and mobilizing people of faith and like-minded individuals to be effective citizens. Together we will influence public policy and enact legislation that strengthens families, promotes time-honored values, protects the dignity of life and marriage, lowers the tax burden on small business and families, and requires government to tighten its belt and live within its means.

Our Principles

  •Respect for the sanctity and dignity of life, family, and marriage as the foundations of a free society

•Limited government, lower taxes and fiscal responsibility to unleash the creative energy of entrepreneurs

•Education reform that puts children first

•Help the poor, the needy, and those who have been left behind

•Free markets and free minds to create opportunity for all

•Victory in the struggle with terrorism and tyranny while supporting our democratic allies, including Israel

 Our Goals

 •Mobilize and train people of faith to be effective citizens

•Speak out in the public arena and in the media on behalf of common-sense values

•Influence legislation and enact sound public policy at every level of government

•Train citizens for effective civic action

•Protest bigotry and discrimination against people of faith’.[1]

 


[1] “About the Faith and Freedom Coalition” Faith & Freedom Coalition. http://ffcoalition.com/about/.

Global Day of Prayer vs Turkey’s Elections: 12 June 2011

On Sunday, 12 June 2011, about 50 million people are expected to cast their ballots in Turkey in an important national election, an election that might very well usher in the AKP’s third successive term at the helm of Turkey’s ship. The increasing autocratic tendencies exhibited by Premier Tayyip Erdoğan have become a cause for concern though and many domestically as well as internationally are understandably weary. Following the end of World War II and the real introduction of democracy in Turkey, the country was ruled by the DP (Demokrat Parti) for the duration of ten years (1950-60), in effect replacing the previous one-party state ruled by the CHP (1923-50), only to be toppled by a brutal military coup in 1960. Now that the AKP appears to have established yet another sample of one-party rule in the 21st century and that the military is being increasingly side-lined, Turkey’s future looks set to develop in a pseudo-Ottoman mould as a regional super-power and global player of some importance.[1]  In my previous entry, I indicated the trepidation felt by the Christian right in America. Pat Roberson’s cabal seems to be in an uproar about the AKP’s expected electoral victory on Sunday, 12 June 2011. His television channel CBN is now seen in 180 countries and broadcast in 71 languages and arguably influences people all around the world. But, as it turns out, this Sunday is also important for another reason. CBN News Anchor/Reporter Wendy Griffith explains that “[h]undreds of millions of Christians representing 200 nations across the world will gather on Pentecost Sunday to pray for their nations. Since its beginning more than 10 years ago,
the Global Day of Prayer has been inviting the world’s believers to pray together. The Church has responded, petitioning God in open-air stadiums, city halls, and cathedrals. They’ve worshipped Him in the streets, public parks, and private homes”.[2]

Even though the Huntingtonian Clash of Civilisations (1996) has as yet not emerged, and has even been countered by an Alliance of Civilisations suggested by Turkey’s current Prime Minister and Spain’s Premier José Luis Zapatero during 59th General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) in 2005,[3]  Pat Robertson’s cabal seems bent on fanning the flames of inter-faith rivalry and enmity, pitting Christian believers against Muslim faithful in a battle of prayer and devotion . . .


[1] C. Erimtan, “A pseudo-Ottoman policy: Turkey’s new station in the world” Today’s Zaman (04 November 2010). http://tiny.cc/6qkki.

[2] Wendy Griffith, “Global Day of Prayer to Focus on Revival” CBN News (10 June 2011). http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2011/June/Christians-Worldwide-Gather-for-Global-Day-of-Prayer-/.

2012: Mayan Prophecies

In recent years, the idea that the world will end on December 21, 2012 has gained attention and spawned thousands of web sites, blogs, books and even a Hollywood movie. Although scientists generally dismiss the idea, curators of the Museum of Natural Science in Houston decided to use the prediction as a hook to draw visitors into the world of the ancient Maya. They do it through a planetarium film and an exhibit being prepared for next year – just in time, some might say, for the end of everything. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Houston.