Thursday, 26 February 2009

The End is Nigh for Twitter!

Yes, The End is Nigh now has its own newsfeed through Twitter - regular updates on all the apocalyptic news that's fit to scare your socks off!

How to survive the 21st Century

The New Scientist has provided a blueprint for how mankind might make it through the next 91 years, if Mr Lovelock's direst predictions actually come true ...

Life "doomed" by four degree rise in global temps

James Lovelock, the former Nasa scientist and chief proponent of Gaia theory, has hit the headlines again with 'doomsday' predictions of the effects of climate change.

Climate change will wipe out most life on Earth by the end of this century and mankind is too late to avert catastrophe, a leading British climate scientist said.

Lovelock, 89, has said higher temperatures will turn parts of the world into desert and raise sea levels, flooding other regions.

His apocalyptic theory foresees crop failures, drought and death on an unprecedented scale. The population of this hot, barren world could shrink from about seven billion to one billion by 2100 as people compete for ever-scarcer resources.

"It will be death on a grand scale from famine and lack of water," Lovelock told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. "It could be a reduction to a billion (people) or less."

More worryingly, he claims that even if the world found a way of cutting emissions to zero, it is now too late to cool the Earth.

Ironically, this comes just a few weeks after experts at Britain's top climate research centre launched an attack on scientific colleagues and journalists who exaggerate the effects of global warming.

Talking up the apocalypse

We've talked before about the language of the apocalypse, particularly in issue two in reference to natural disasters. In the verbose excesses of a globalised media, analogies of apocalypse and disaster are easily employed to strike home to the reader or listener the gravity of the situation in a natural, almost knee-jerk reaction to events that seem too big to be true. Such words are not the preserve of the doom-monger, as even those who promise relief and rescue from a frightening and seemingly overwhelming situation find it all too easy to create a backdrop of despair, against which their efforts shine even more brightly.

But what effect does this have? What seeds does it sow? According to the latest report from the Global Language Monitor, 'words of hope in the global media have given way to those of despair and fear relating to the economic meltdown in a three-month period since the US presidential election in November'. The way we use language fundamentally affects our view of the world and as people are bombarded with words such as 'armageddon', 'meltdown', 'doomsday' and 'apocalypse' their emotional reaction to the situation will inevitably shift towards feelings of fear and despair. Couple that with the genuine problems faced by people around the world, such as rises in food prices and shortage of commodities, and the consequences can be significant. As people panic, so do their leaders. As a climate of fear evolves, so does the situation where drastic measures seem reasonable.

There are some who inevitably see these societal 'collapses' as precursors for social unrest and, eventually, war; so the way we talk about a crisis deserves attention. Are we playing things up for effect? Are we at risk of affecting the outcome of this economic depression just because of our choice of words? Are we making things worse due a simple poverty of allegory?

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Seriously ... what?!

'Many have seen how crowds react to his speaking and have wondered “Is Barack Obama the Antichrist?”'


We're all for refreshingly new points of view, but this odd blend of post-millennial anxiety, Biblical prophecy that even Joseph Smith would snort at, pseudo-Kenyan nationalism and mis-translation makes even my head hurt.

Of course, many figures have been fingered as The Antichrist, of Revelations fame - the Pope, Henry Kissinger, even JFK. But Obama? It's notable that this prophecy comes out of Kenya itself, rather than from certain right-wing evangelical Christian commentators in America who suggests their new president's moves to repair/improve American relations with the rest of the world means he's due to become some kind of 'President of the world' which, of course, would mean he'd be the unifying Antichrist ...

No, I don't get it either.