The end is nigh

by Lorin Michel Thursday, September 21, 2017 9:58 PM

There is actually a doomsday clock. It was started in World War II, after we dropped Fat Man and Little Boy on Japan, and is maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board. It has long represented an analogy for the threat of global nuclear way though since 2007 it has also been adjusted to reflect catastrophic changes in our climate. Should the clock ever get to midnight, we’re f&#%ed. In 1947, it was set at seven minutes to midnight. It has moved 22 times with the closest we ever came to midnight occurring in 1953 and the farthest away in 1991. Since January, it has been set at two and a half minutes. It advanced with the inauguration of the biggest threat to our survival I have known in my lifetime. Before that it had been at 3 minutes. It was at 14 minutes to midnight in 1995.

I had a friend in 1995 who believed that the world was coming to an end. She blamed Bill Clinton, who was then president, largely because she was a republican so naturally a democrat would hasten the destruction of our planet. Funny that it’s the republicans who refuse to believe in global warming and climate change and who are actually the ones hastening the end of our lives as we have come to know them. I asked what her evidence was and she cited an earthquake in Turkey and torrential rains, horrendous storms, biblical flooding. Obviously the end times.

At the time, I pointed out that I suspected those things had always happened but that they seemed worse now because we got news about them instantly. Then, it was 24-hour news organizations like CNN. The minute something happened, it was reported on the air. It’s only gotten worse with the advent of Fox News and MSNBC, all cable news networks that have 24 hours each day to fill with news. It’s fairly obvious how they salivate when there’s a natural or manmade disaster somewhere. The coverage is wall-to-wall. Most times there is a logo and theme music and the ever-present “Breaking News” banner. Enter the internet and calamity can’t be far away. 

Lately the world seems to be on the verge of ending. Again. In the past month alone, there have been devastating hurricanes (Harvey and Irma), flooding, and disease spread by the rising waters. There have been earthquakes and there is never-ending war. Famine spreads through Africa, still. War destroys families and cities in eastern Europe. Most people are blissfully unaware. It’s sad how unengaged people remain. Perhaps disengaged is a better word. People don’t want to know, don’t want to be bothered, so they don’t and aren’t. That apathy led to the single most destructive human being (and I use the term “human” lightly) to ever sit behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office. 

I despair. 

Health care access and insurance is once again under attack for reasons that I admit I honestly don’t understand. Why do republicans want to eliminate people’s ability to get good affordable health care, to be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions (including acne. Acne!), to condemn the poor to death? Dramatic, I realize. But if someone makes no money and is diagnosed with a disease, how do they afford treatment? If someone could explain to me the rationale for denying Americans the ability to have good insurance, I would truly love to hear it because all I hear today is that they promised for years they were going to do it, so they have to or else they’ll lose their re-election prospects. 

Losing their re-election is obviously much more important than ordinary Americans losing their health insurance. 

I despair.

Climate change is a hoax. Scientists are to be ridiculed. World leaders are to be mocked. Threats are made easily. 

So I find myself wondering if maybe the end really is nigh this time. This week, the toddler went to the United Nations and proceeded to embarrass us yet again, threatening to destroy a country. Interestingly, what he said is exactly what the regime in North Korea has been telling its people for decades. Now they have footage that doesn’t even need to be edited to show that they have always been right. Does he think this will end well? 

I’m no longer friends with the woman who was, once upon a time, concerned that the world would be ending soon. I couldn’t stomach her politics anymore. I have friends now who are republicans and I have no trouble with them. But there was something about the doomsday attitude, coupled with supporting people who were bringing it about that just rubbed me the wrong way.

If the world ends soon, I will have been proved wrong and my once upon a time friend will be exultant. But we’ll all be dead so it won’t matter. And at least I won’t have to worry anymore about affordable health insurance.

Tick tock

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