Thursday, August 18, 2011

Apocalypse...when??? (updated)

Everyone's talking about it. Hate-filled preachers, geeks, and of course the fundamentalists on the streets. The world is supposed to end three different times this decade. We survived one already. The next is in September, and the final one this year coincides with Yule after next.

The world has ended before. The dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago because a super volcano eruption coincided with a meteor hitting on the opposite side of the world. Our own species almost went extinct roughly 73,000 years ago. Honestly. A super-volcano erupted, and we are descended from the 3,000 to 10,000 survivors. The last time the world ended, we know how to survive. Our ancestors knew how to hunt, fish, and gather produce. They knew how to make clothes and tools needed to survive. And still, they almost didn't survive. Our species was on the brink of extinction.

Humans can't say the same now. Most humans' idea of hunting and gathering involves going to the local grocery store or super market. Some can't even do that. They eat out every single meal, except cereal and TV dinners. Few people would have the first clue how to survive if the power went out for more than a day or two.

What if the world were to end? Maybe the zombies take over the world. Perhaps Yellowstone (a super-volcano in Wyoming that is overdue) erupts. Maybe someone, somewhere, hits the button that starts a nuclear war. Could be one of the other ways our planet might be destroyed. Or, just maybe, a pandemic hits. No matter what happens, those that can't cook will die first...unless they are good friends with someone that cares enough to share rather than hoard.

Everyone in the world needs to regain the survival skills we lost when we became urbanites. How to build a fire without matches. How to hunt. How to tell what food growing wild are poisonous, what is edible, and what is medicinal. How to tell if water is safe to drink. How to store the food and water over a long period of time. How to avoid carnivores (as well as large herbivores), and protect their wealth (in this case, food, medicine, clothes and water). These skills come in handy, even if the world doesn't end. If they get stuck in the middle of nowhere, those that have survival skills will not die of hunger or thirst.

One law of nature that no creature has been able to break is specialization. The more specialized a species is, the less likely it will survive should the environment it lives in suddenly change. In the case of humans, we're highly specialized in the urban life. Should the electricity fail, or the roads close, most humans would have a hard time surviving for long. Stores would be out of food and water in days, if not hours.

Now, I'm not saying you should become a luddite. Far from. Technology, for the most part, is fine. Even the things that are basically useless (TV for one) are fine in moderation. I just think the world should take a step back and collectively re-think our priorities before it's too late.

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