Cool Buddies

End of World or End of Us? [by Sharada]

Posted in Environment, Life by Ratheesh & Sharada on October 7, 2009

End of World has been a favorite topic of fiction writers, film makers and astrologers for ages. Even the common man has been intrigued by the various theories around this. While some are drawn to it due to the fear of destruction, some others due to their religious belief that shows them a possibility of after-life, most of them are drawn to it due to the sheer amazement and action that it promises.

Why is this such a popular topic?

  • People like to believe in finite things, having a start and an end. So if they believe (or are made to believe) that the world had a definite starting point some billions of years ago, they would expect it to have an end to it as well
  • Over the years, thanks to the media, this “event of a lifetime” has been glamorized and glorified beyond proportions that people secretly wish they can experience this historical moment in their lifetime (even if they know very well they might not live to tell about it)
  • It gives us a chance to discard our wrong-doings to the world, learn from our mistakes and start afresh
  • Religious beliefs associated with this phenomenon promises people life after death and attainment of salvation
  • It gives one a chance to go wild on imagination and let one travel vicariously into the “unknown”
  • Have an excuse to justify our actions which have resulted in irrevocable damage to the planet and shrug it off by saying “Anyway the world is going to end, so how does it matter we throw garbage around or not…”
  • Gives us an excuse to support our indifference towards the state of the planet and our inability to do something about it by saying “How does it make a difference whether I go by a car or walking, the world is going to end anyway…”
  • For businessmen, it is a great time to cash in on the superstitions associated with this phenomenon and use it to promote their products

How would this happen?

There are several theories around how exactly the world would end. Some taken out of history books, some created in the modern era, some predicted by astrologers while some others conceptualized and proposed by scientists. However, so far, we have not found one unified theory that has everyone’s acceptance which can predict with conviction the exact details of how this would all happen. Some popular theories include – 

  • Natural phenomena that would cause the global temperatures to soar, trigger rapid melting of the polar ice caps and in turn raise the ocean levels steeply resulting in submerging of major portion of land masses
  • Meteor showers that can penetrate the earth’s atmosphere and cause huge balls of fire to strike the surface at incredible speed
  • Shifting of the polar ice caps drastically that would result in the reversal of hot and cold areas and in turn cause the destruction of the life forms which would not be able to acclimatize to the drastic changes
  • Drought, Famine, Earthquakes
  • Epidemics, pandemics that would spread across the countries and bring about sudden deaths of large populations
  • Alien Invasion
  • Nuclear war among the nations that would end up destroying the planet

These are just samples, there are more of course. It has to be quick, intense, dramatic and enormous.

When I came across this phenomenon way back in 1999, when one of my teachers introduced us to the terminology “Apocalypse”, I was fascinated as many of us would at first be. It was predicted that 2000 would be the chosen year for this, but we all know that 2000 came and went, nothing happened. Now the year to watch out for is 2012.

Amidst these theories of ‘doomsday’, there exists a school of people who believe that the end of world has already begun. It would not happen on a specific date and time of a year, but will happen gradually. It will happen slowly but continuously over a period of time, taking away small pieces of land, wiping away small populations of people and species of animals. If we carefully observe around us we already see parts of this damage – polar ice caps melting, raising the sea level, flooding some places and submerging pieces of land. Countries are in war against each other, there is an outbreak of epidemics and pandemics.

It might not be obvious at first, but on closer observation, the findings are chilling. However, this theory is not as popular since it lacks action and drama – two main factors that draw the minds of the masses.

How are people reacting to this?

Different people react in different ways to this phenomenon ‘Apocalypse’. 

  • Some start squandering all their money and desperately start “enjoying” their life • Some turn religious, philosophical, god-fearing
  • Some start “donating” their assets and start their preparation for salvation
  • Some panic, not knowing what to do, go into depression and turn suicidal
  • Some look forward to it like an “event of a lifetime” – very excited with their cameras loaded
  • Some look at it as an opportunity to improve their business
  • Most remain indifferent, pretending to be ignorant and live in denial

Is it really going to end?

There are two ways to look at this – when we say ‘world is ending’ do we consider only ourselves (human beings) and believe that if we do not exist, then the world does not exist. The other one being the planet is going to become “lifeless”, completely wiped out of all the life forms and cease to live up to its unique status of being the only planet that supports life and become like one of our neighbors.

For some of us who are selfish, it hardly matters, what is the point knowing if the world exists if we (human beings) do not exist? So both the options spell doom. However, for some of us who are optimistic, love the planet more than our race, respect nature comprising of all elements that constitute life, the second option is very promising.

To believe that the earth would survive humans and continue to exists and support other life forms, long after humans are extinct is an exciting proposition. It gives us a glimmer of hope amidst the gloom of destruction we have caused the planet by our selfish actions. There are very strong facts supporting this. The earth has existed before we came in, it has supported life before we came in, we have come after a very long time and our entire life span (time between first humans came in and now) is extremely small compared to the life span of our planet. The earth can heal itself. Whenever there is an imbalance caused due to a particular species, the earth has decided to eliminate it and move on. At the rate humans are destroying the planet, we have become like a “disease” to the planet. According to Dr. W.W. Armistead “… the earth is a habitat and life source for human beings. But to the earth, human habitation is a disease, and human beings are arch parasites. To the pristine earth, the coming of Homo sapiens signaled the onset of a chronic, global illness, the outcome of which is still in doubt”. The earth would one day decide to heal itself of this “disease” and continue to create other life forms.

We might have altered this planet a great deal, some of the damages irreversible (like we have caused some species to become extinct) but that does not mean the end of the blue planet.

By systematically harming nature, we are successfully cooking up a perfect recipe for our own destruction – the end of human race. According to Oren Lyons, Faith keeper and Chief of Turtle Clan – “…The earth has all the time in the world. And we don’t”. By taking a positive action, we are only trying to save our own race. The earth can save itself. It has lived, it has survived, it is a fighter. It will continue to survive.. long after we are all gone.

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