9. THE SELF-DESTRUCTIVE APOCALYPSES OF THE THIRD MILLENNIUM
In the 21st century predictions continue to have a stronger effect on society than prophecies and messianisms. While predictions, when they are well-grounded, are taken very seriously into consideration, prophecies and messianisms are ridiculed or become alarm signals for possible terrorist or suicidal actions. This trend forces the contemporary mystics to adapt and – as the 2012 phenomenon demonstrated – to skillfully use scientific data to support the validity of their prophecies. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the traditional harbingers of apocalypse “expired.” In fact, the veritable apocalyptic propagandists of the 21st century are no longer the prophets, the clairvoyants, the mediums, the astrologers or the insane, but Hollywood. Not even the scientists, who warn us with clear proofs about our possible grim future, have such an influence as the movies. Apocalypses, of any kind, are extraordinary subjects for screening. And Hollywood does not care about religious doctrines or scientific laws. From impossible apocalypses, produced by zombies, apes, vampires or even plants, less probable apocalypses, as the apocalypse of the machines, to possible apocalypses, caused by climate failure or another natural phenomenon, the film industry has a large palette where it can choose from. Its only purpose is to make money. And in order to do that it produces entertainment or, in this case, exploits our greatest fears.
The apocalyptic scenarios of the current century are predominantly self-destructive, in which humans, not God, are the entities that cause massive destructions through irresponsible actions. Some fatalistic scenarios are acute, being tied to potentially dangerous experiments. One such case took place when the Large Hadron Collider from Geneva was switched on in September 2008, causing fear that it might produce a black hole that would engulf the planet.1471 But most scenarios are chronic, stretched over long periods of time. Irreversible ecological disaster, financial collapse, the clash of civilizations, nuclear holocaust or resource exhaustion – these are the most widespread apocalyptic scenarios of the beginning of the third millennium. And the main cause of all self-destructive scenarios seems to be the overpopulation of the planet, amplified by the lack of education and greed.
The world’s population has continued to grow since the Black Death. From approximately 350 millions in the 14th century, it reached the one billion milestone at the beginning of the 19th century. This aspect caught the attention of the English thinker Thomas Malthus, one of the first who discussed the issue of overpopulation. He stated that the continuous growth of population might, at some point, deplete the resources of food, which would further cause chaos, war, and ultimately a violent reset of civilization.1472 But the Malthusian predictions did not come true and the overpopulation issue began to be globally debated only 150 years later. Largely due to the development of medicine, agriculture production and social protection policies, the most significant increase of population occurred in the second half of the 20th century. In the 1950s there were little over 2.5 billion people; 30 years later the number rose to over 4.5 billion. Although since the 1980s the birth rate decreased, especially in the developed countries,1473 in July 2015 the world’s population was estimated at 7.3 billion people.1474
Overpopulation entails consequences that can hardly be predicted in detail; they are rather sketched. In fact, the problem is not necessarily the large number of people, but the need for space and resources of every individual. Man is a greedy being, which does not know when to stop. Greed is instinctual; it can hardly be controlled. In most part of our existence as a species, we lived in hunger and scarcity. During that time greed was beneficial, because it forced us to take advantage of every opportunity, to accumulate and to consume as much resources as possible in order to increase our chances of survival. But, ever since the Industrial Revolution allowed man to harness increasingly more resources with increasingly less energy, greed has turned against us in many ways.
The real challenge is to determine the relation between the number of people and the standard of living our planet can sustain. Modern estimates of Earth’s capacity to support life vary between four and 16 billion people. The number of people our planet can sustain depends almost entirely on lifestyle. Earth’s resources are limited and exhaustible. Accordingly, as long as man is conditioned by the technology he possesses and by the limited resources offered by the mother planet, the number of people and the lifestyle are inversely proportional. A luxurious lifestyle involves a greater consumption of resources and energy per individual and demands a reduced population. On the contrary; a precarious lifestyle means a lower consumption of resources and energy per individual, which allows a numerous population. Following the domino effect, if population grows too much in relation to its standard of life, this means a (rapid) depletion of resources, which further causes social tensions, movements of masses, revolutions and wars.
Depending on the used estimate, overpopulation ... (This text is incomplete. If you wish to read it in full, please purchase the book)
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