The end of the world is just around the corner — on the 21st of December — marking the end of the 5,125-year “Long Count” Mayan calendar. Panicking Russians and Chinese have been buying up candles (because the world’s end means we’ll be in the dark) while Americans are apparently snatching up survival shelters.
Pedro Celestino Yac Noj, a Mayan sage, is far more relaxed about the matter. According to the Telegraph, he has marked the end of the old calendar by burning seeds and fruit at a ceremony and Cuba, noting that “The 21st is for giving thanks and gratitude and the 22nd welcomes the new cycle, a new dawn.”
Be that as it may, we are prone to a fascination with the apocalypse and the end of times. Five recent developments that show the real end of the world is, for better or for worse, nigh.
1. Chicago Experiences Spring in December
In early December of this year, it was time for shorts and sleeveless shirts in Chicago, the “windy city,” with the temperature at 72 degrees in some areas. The normal temperature is a far less toasty 39 degrees.
2. One By One and Two By Two, Species Are Going Extinct
Biblical lore holds that Noah took two of each kind of animal onto the ark to save them from the great deluge upon the earth. The reality is that humans are responsible for killing off the creatures we share this earth with.
In the last 500 years, we’ve decimated 869 species. 16,928 species of animals and plants are currently at risk as their habitats are destroyed, as they are hunted, as invasive species enter their ecosystems bringing disease and competition for food. All told, one in eight birds, one in four mammals, one in five invertebrates, one in three amphibians and fully half of all turtles face extinction.
3. The World Is On Track Not To End In Ice
Poet Robert Frost wrote that the world would end in “fire or ice.” But climate change seems to be working in favor of the former, as snow cover and sea ice in the Arctic shrink and the tundra, no longer a land of ice and snow, grows green with vegetation.
4. Not Only Chocolate and Coffee But Pasta Could Disappear
Climate change could wipe out the foods that some, no doubt, subsist on (i.e., those who consider chocolate its own food group and coffee a food). As noted on Grist, rising temperatures, storms and drought — extreme weather in general — all mean bad news for future wheat crops around the world, in the U.S., the Canadian Midwest, northern China, India, Russia and Australia. Wheat production in some regions, such as North Dakota, is already being affected.
If you are intolerant to gluten, you already know that living wheatless is not impossible and not a sacrifice but reason to be creative about cooking and eating habits. Wheatophiles may soon have to acquire a taste for lentil or quinoa pasta.
5. The Blind Shall See, The Paralyzed Walk Again
While we humans seem to be doing all we can destroy the earth and so many of its inhabitants and habitats, in other ways we’re turning apocalyptic prophecies on their head. Scientists have been developing ways for those unable to walk to just that and to help the blind (mice) see.
Really, if we can do all that, we’ve the know-how and the ability to save at least some of those species before the end is upon us. You’d think!
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