Apocalyptic withdrawal symptoms? Try these.

22May11

“Ah, make the most of what we may yet spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie,
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and-sans End!
                        
 Rubaiyat  Omar Khayyam

Bugger! I dozed off and missed it. I’ll have to watch the return of JC on TV. Probably on Shine?  (Probably not on Al Jazeera-different era).

I didn’t  spot any piles of bodyless clothes left by ascending rapturees in the very week Playboy launched its digital archives of clotheless bodies.

There wasn’t even a decent sized shake or quake in Christchurch around the appointed annointed time-only 3 tiddlers for the full 24 hours on the 21st and only 4 undersize tremors so far on the 22nd  to allow for any time shift . Way below par.

Perhaps we are living in such a heathen country that no one qualified for the Rapture.  Unlikely terminator rapper Harold Camping* will have to dust off his divine calculator and throw another logarithm on the fire of hell if he’s going to go for the trifecta of End Of The World forecasts.

He might find it a little tricky to ramp up his version of global warming for a last hurrah and alleluia. Twice bitten thrice shy. Camping followers will be a little mortified to still be on this mortal coil, having to face friends and rellies on an ordinary Monday tomorrow, with their rapture dream ruptured.

On the positive side, the atheistic potential peripatetic petminders who provided futures options by being on standby to look after the pets of the nearly dearly departed have reaped a bountiful bonanza.

If you don’t live in Christchurch and want to keep your apocalyptic anxiety levels up, here are a couple of alternative non-fundamentalist  pathways to the End Of The World As We Don’t Know It.

 Breathless?
Take a deep breath: oxygen is vanishing into thin air.” Jonathan Leake, UK Sunday Times*

The appropriately named Jonathan Leake writes that oxygen levels in the atmosphere are falling by about 25 billion tonnes a year because we are burning so much coal, oil and gas.

Oxygen makes up about 21 per cent of the atmosphere by volume. The decline illustrates the scale of human impact on the Earth’s atmosphere.

There are unbelievers, deniers and sceptics, but it has long been asserted that burning fossil fuels has caused a surge of the potent greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, levels of which have virtually doubled since the industrial revolution kicked off.  

That the same activities would cause a measurable change in levels of oxygen is a newer notion.

According to Andrew Manning, an atmospheric physicist at East Anglia University, for every molecule of CO emitted into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, 1.4 molecules of atmospheric O are consumed.

Don’t pack your bags again yet Harold. Manning stresses that the decline is small in overall terms and does not represent any imminent threat to life. The atmosphere contains about 1.2 million billion tonnes of oxygen, so it would take 48,000 years to use it all up, a very short time in geological terms but about 12 times the age of the universe, according to the biblical literalists.

The really good news is that the Earth’s fossil fuel reserves would probably run out long before oxygen levels fell significantly and save the day.

Over the eons global oxygen levels have fluctuated considerably. The new planet Earth remained virtually devoid of the gas until about 430 million years ago, according to scientists, when plants began producing it.

Beeless?
“The radio wasn’t saying anything, and the papers weren’t either, but the bees knew. They didn’t come out for two days, not a single one…” Svetlana Alexievich  Voices from Chernobyl.*

The plants that make the oxygen need bees, specifically the bees knees. In a stunning video on pollination* Louie Schwartzberg shows the hidden beauty of the work of the birds and the bees and in keeping this old earth going and growing.

A new book about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 says that although the authorities kept quiet in the days after the disaster, bees knew. At the time I recall a story that the first signs that something was amiss was when Polish beekeeper monks spotted no usual bee activity in their apiaries, normally  hives of activity, on a fine day. Bee early warning antennae were twitching and they weren’t going anywhere. To bee or not to bee? This is the answer.

More recently Ecological Apocalypse has been back on the agenda. Where have all the bees gone, long time passing…?

In a post-colonial age, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colonies abruptly disappear*. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, this term  was first applied to a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of Western honey bee colonies in North America in late 2006. Colony collapse is significant because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees.

According to Wikipedia* the cause or causes of the syndrome are not yet fully understood. Some attribute the problem to biotic factors such as Varroa mites and insect diseases.  Other suggested causes include environmental change-related stresses, malnutrition, pesticides and migratory beekeeping. More speculative possibilities have included both cell phone radiation and genetically modified  crops with pest control characteristics though apparently no evidence exists for either assertion*.

It has also been suggested that it may be due to a combination of many factors and that no single factor is the cause. A cocktail of environmental stressors may set off a cascade of events and contribute to a colony where weakened worker bees are more susceptible to pests and pathogens.

Forget the dusting. As Omar points out dust will come soon enough.  Pass the bottle of wine, grab the guitar and let’s sing a bit of kiwioke.

*BLINKS
http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/5037822/Apocalypse-followers-shocked-as-nothing-happens
https://bluggerme.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/halo-halo-rapturous-applause-or-a-deathly-hush/  Halo Halo?http://fairfaxmedia.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx   Take a deep breath: oxygen is vanishing into thin air
http://richarddawkins.net/articles/474989-that%E2%80%99s-not-the-afterlife-%E2%80%93-it%E2%80%99s-a-brainstorm 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder  Colony collapse disorder
Svetlana Alexievich in her book Voices from Chernobyl.  Bee holiday
http://www.redicecreations.com/article.php?id=827  Ecological Apocalypse: Why Are All The Bees Dying?http://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_the_hidden_beauty_of_pollination.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2011-05-10&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email   Vid  Louie Schwartzberg: The hidden beauty of pollination   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYmIu_njso4Grateful Dead  Vid The Grateful Dead performing “St. Stephen on Playboy After Dark, 1969.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ejga4kJUts  Vid The Cranberries performing Zombie 1994

#Lyall Lukey 22 May 2011
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/ My other (bit more serious) blog 

 

 

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