OK, well I have been thinking some more about our two alternative futures; the new age of technology and innovation vs. various apocalyptic scenarios. It seems to me that we are actually involved in racing against the apocalypse. We have become increasingly preoccupied with the end of the world. I went to Wikipedia to find the number of movies that have had apocalyptic themes and the progression was clear and stunning. Before 1950 only 4 movies appeared on our movie screens with “end of the world” scenarios. By 2000-2009 the number increased to 55. In only one decade did the number of movies that portrayed world destruction decrease (in 80-89 there were 30 such movies, and in 90-99 there was one less, or 29).
# of Apocalyptic Movies By Decade
(Information from Wikipedia)
Before 1950 4
Wikipedia also looks at all literature that depicts apocalyptic situations but that chart has too many entries and, because of the way it is organized, it is much more difficult to see trends. However there was another interesting chart which summarized the causes of apocalypse in fiction:
· Impact Event
· Future Collapse
· Human Decline
· Social collapse including economic and over population
More than any other data this seemingly trivial stuff may indicate that we are at a turning point, that the world as we know it will experience either a thumbs up or thumbs down outcome in the near future. We are racing the apocalypse, assuming it involves one of the catastrophic circumstances we can actually have some control over. We are still trying to prevent total global thermo-nuclear destruction (War Games). We are trying to understand the hostile forces arrayed against us in terms of “hater” nations or groups and to wend our way through a very tricky maze to an age of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. We are striving to end our dependence on fossil fuels so that we can avoid incinerating the earth and its inhabitants through global warming or drowning millions by melting the ice caps (or both). We hope our researchers are working everyday to wipe out disease and we are trying to take reasoned approaches to the exploding world population by saving species and working on a stable and safe food supply that will feed the 9 billion people who will populate the earth by 2050.
If we fail to innovate, if we fail at peace, if we fail to reverse the weather extremes that threaten our economies, our food supplies and our lives – if we fail in any of a scary number of ways – boom – apocalypse! No wonder we are so consumed with imagining all the ways we lose our way, the ways we lose a large percentage of the world population, and have to reboot the world with the survivors (and whatever they might randomly remember).
It all comes down to central heating for me. I love central heating (and cooling). These are inventions that make our lives comfortable enough so that we can sit at our computers and write, so we can read and think and create, so that our lives become more than just a day-to-day struggle. So I hope someone saves us from the apocalypse so I don’t have to live without my furnace or my solar panels. All right that’s not a completely serious statement. I don’t want to see the world go away or to see humans have to start over. I see human life as a continuum where we always improve upon the past and where we create solutions to any problems that arise and someday expand outward from the earth to the vast universe that surrounds us. I look forward to a new Age of Discovery. But I believe that right now we are racing the apocalypse.