So, I heard on the internet, that the world is going to end on Saturday. Here I am, looking at the computer screen, about to pay my power bill. I mean, uh, why should I? The End of the World is something that I think about often. No. Let me rephrase. I think of the end of the human race often, how we are going to end, how it all will boil down. I think about that. But, the planet? This big rock will be around for a few million years. Billion years. Longer than me.
Sometimes I make a sandwich, lift it to my mouth to take a bite and think, what’s the point?
The actually logistical problems with the world ending? The internet gave me an article about that, too. From Slate.
And yet in the coming century, these or other black swans will seem to occur with surprising frequency. There are several reasons for this. We have chosen to engineer the planet. We have built vast networks of technology. We have created systems that, in general, work very well, but are still vulnerable to catastrophic failures. It is harder and harder for any one person, institution, or agency to perceive all the interconnected elements of the technological society. Failures can cascade. There are unseen weak points in the network. Small failures can have broad consequences. Most importantly: We have more people, and more stuff, standing in the way of calamity. We’re not suddenly having more earthquakes, but there are now 7 billion of us, a majority living in cities. In 1800, only Beijing could count a million inhabitants, but at last count there were 381 cities with at least 1 million people. Many are “megacities” in seismically hazardous places—Mexico City, Caracas, Tehran, and Kathmandu being among those with a lethal combination of weak infrastructure (unreinforced masonry buildings) and a shaky foundation.
The world isn’t ending. There are just more of us. The planet is doing what it always has. It’s warming, because of us, and there are buildings every where, because of us. But it is here, regardless of us. It is going to be here, in spite of us. “The World” is going to out last us.
And, honestly? I would prefer to spend my time here on Earth lifting my brother on my shoulders, and being lifted onto someone else’s shoulders, instead of pointing at a man and, at the same time, point at the sky and yelling about it falling. I have more important things to do.