Apocalyptic Daze

Secular elites, we are told, prophesy a doomsday without redemption. The article linked below elaborates on what I blogged about yesterday… chicken little… and the question of who or what to believe, and how we respond… or ought too.

Apocalyptic Daze, by Pascal  Bruckner,  is a very long, very interesting article just posted on Arts and Letters Daily.  It is from City Journal, a quarterly magazine of urban affairs, published by the Manhattan Institute.

Bruckner speaks of fear …

… of progress, of science, of demographics, of global warming, of technology, of food. In five years or in ten years, temperatures will rise, Earth will be uninhabitable, natural disasters will multiply, the climate will bring us to war, and nuclear plants will explode. Man has committed the sin of pride; he has destroyed his habitat and ravaged the planet; he must atone.

My point is not to minimize the dangers that we face. Rather, it is to understand why apocalyptic fear has gripped so many of our leaders, scientists, and intellectuals, who insist on reasoning and arguing as though they were following the scripts of mediocre Hollywood disaster movies….

I am not sure what my response is!

Is he saying that the warnings of these intellectuals are unfounded, just another manifestation of apocalyptic thinking that has always existed?

Is he saying that thinking and worrying about it is futile, and will make the situation worse?

Is he saying that our individual attempts to minimize consumption and waste are useless,  that finding “ourselves at a loss before planetary threats, we will convert our powerlessness into propitiatory gestures, which will give us the illusion of action”?

Either this is the most cynical article I have found in my research for Earth Day, or the most profound! Can it be both?

Environmental worry is universal; the sickness of the end of the world is purely Western. To counter this pessimism, we might list the good news of the last 20 years: democracy is making slow progress; more than a billion people have escaped absolute poverty; life expectancy has increased in most countries; war is becoming rarer; many serious illnesses have been eradicated. But it would do little good. Our perception is inversely proportional to reality.

The Christian apocalypse saw itself as a hopeful revelation of the coming of God’s kingdom. Today’s has nothing to offer. There is no promise of redemption; the only hope is that those human beings who repent of their errors may escape the chaos….  How can we be surprised, then, that so many bright minds have become delirious and that so many strange predictions flourish?

I will be following the comment stream that is invited at the end of the article. We could also start one here. What is your reaction?

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