Gene Logsdon and Friends

Look Out, The World Is About To End Again

In Gene's Weekly Posts on December 12, 2012 at 6:45 am


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From GENE LOGSDON

Last summer I started to fall for the old Doomsday Disaster Doldrums again. It didn’t rain from the middle of May to September. Crops didn’t grow and pasture dried up. I was once more painfully reminded of how close we live to the brink of disaster at all times. The food cliff, if not the fiscal cliff, lurks just one misstep away, or so it seems. Of course the rains did come in September and more in October and now going into December, the pastures are lush and I don’t think I will have to feed hay until January. The latest weather roundup says rainfall in Ohio for the year is about normal. Ho hum.

I never learn. I got a good case of the DDDs in 1988 when it did not rain one drop here from April 11 until July 17. And I can remember my parents and grandparents in the 1930s despairing when it seemed that every other year the weather was taking us to the end of the world. And they didn’t have global warming to blame.

But it was back in the 1880s when the worst (so far) weather came our way. Our Sandusky River, here in northern Ohio, got a crust of ice on it in July, so the old papers say. A huge volcano had erupted in Indonesia in 1883 (Krakotoa) and it sent enough ash and debris into the atmosphere to shade the sun for several years even as far away as Ohio. But not many people here knew that and probably would not have believed it anyway. From every pulpit came the old DDD refrain: the end is nigh.

Can you imagine what would happen in today’s state of chronic paranoia if rivers started to freeze over in July? The great debate would be about a new ice age coming and we would be told that we must burn more coal, oil, and gas to encourage global warming.

There actually was a spurt of worry over global cooling back in the late 1980s. Can’t remember the exact year but I wrote an article in Organic Gardening magazine making fun of it. Then of course in 2000 all was going to be lost again, only computers, not the weather, was the supposed culprit. Now, another replay. All will end next week on Dec. 21. Says so according to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, whatever that is.

This latest example of how nutty humans are is a little more sophisticated. The world is not going to end this time, I am told, but only that part of human society that has been guilty of environmental destruction. Those few who have not taken part in the wanton money greed and the rampant disregard of natural life, who have stayed out on the ramparts trying to find a way to live that will sustain the earth indefinitely, will be spared. Given the state of the earth right now, it is tempting to believe that kind of doomsday— especially if I am one of those chosen to survive.

It is easy enough to make fun of perpetrators of doomsday but is not the whole debate over climate change possibly another example, although disguised in supposedly more intellectual scientific language? No doubt the earth is presently getting warmer and no doubt we should quit burning so much fossil fuel. But much of the argument sounds unduly alarmist to me. All the numbers I’ve been able to corral in one pen seem to agree that in the last 20 years, the oceans have risen one-half inch. At that rate I have full faith in conniving human nature. We will find a way to adjust. Until then, as one who hates cold weather and loves green pastures, I stand among my sheep grazing in December and mutter quietly so that only the sheep can hear: if this be global warming, I’ve got worse things to worry about.
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  1. Gene, as a child of the 60’s, I cannot recall the number of false alarms that , in retrospect, seem to have been issued solely to generate sales of newspapers, or television viewers.

    A nationwide smog cloud in store by the 70’s.

    No fresh water by the 80’s.

    Out of oil by the 90’s.

    Harmonic convergence.(remember that one?)

    Y2K.

    Floods from rising sea levels…

    Global warming….

    A new ice age….

    The Mayan calendar

    Ad infinitude, ad nauseum.I am too old to be that gullible and fearful anymore.

    As always, thanks for brightening my day mid-week

    • Y2K was a real threat. I worked for the US Army and we tested all the logistical computers to see if they would crash by moving up the date and they did. We then installed the change packet to make them keep working. The only reason that disaster was avoided was billions of dollars and man hours were spent fixing things. Just because it became a non event does not make not real.

  2. Despite all the false alarms, it only takes one real event to spoil your whole civilization.

    That’s what the “precautionary principle” is about — if the consequences of some action could be catastrophic, then precaution is merited, no?

  3. Why wait till the 21th when just in a few hours it will be 12-12-12 12:12:12? ;)

  4. Global warming! We have snow and around here and recently we had the coldest day in Latvia for a December for goodness knows how long. Oh well! Still could do without the crazy weather, rain much of the summer here, so we got your water I think Gene. Now this early winter. Still think we need to get our act together though in case we ever do get too close to that tipping point that tips us over the edge, and even if we are no where near it, then we still need to clean up our act anyway so we don’t leave a rubbish dump for our kids.

  5. Thanks again for bringing humor to my day. By the way, if you come to OEFFA conference again, please bring copies of as many of your books as possible. Last year, I stupidly only bought two, not knowing how cool you are, and now I want to purchase the rest!!

  6. Gene, you always give us something to think about along with a chuckle.

  7. One constant to all the doomsday predictors: no apparent consequences for the perps when they are found to be wrong.

  8. 1. There are five kinds of people who poo-poo global warming: Christians, the uneducated, the super rich, the elderly, and the dim-witted.

    2. “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Alexander Pope.

    3. All readers of this essay please comprehend the following irony:

    Gene writes this in his last paragraph:

    “All the numbers I’ve been able to corral in one pen seem to agree that in the last 20 years, the oceans have risen one-half inch. At that rate I have full faith in conniving human nature. We will find a way to adjust.”

    Why ironic? Because the same man who bows here to the genius of science to fix the dangers of rising oceans is the same man who, in blog after blog, near-rants against the science of industrial food and agriculture.

    4. Carl Sagan wrote this: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Indeed. The science behind global warming is extraordinary. So, too, is science’s evidences. But here? Friends, I read zero evidence of any kind. The mind that does wonders with corn crib design and saving space in gardens is maybe not the mind to debunk 99.5% of the world scientists.

    • On point #1, could we not add people that are wise enough with regards to human nature to know that the proposed political solutions to the problem of global warming are very likely to accomplish very little good with regards to global warming but sure to further shift the balance of power away from individual families and communities toward large, money-corrupted political institutions (which in turn might even have the perverse effect of *adding* to our fossil fuel dependence if not “solutions” like Chernobyl and Fukushima)?

      Might we not also add people that while recognizing that no doubt the earth is presently getting warmer and no doubt we should quit burning so much fossil fuel, that science as heavily influenced by completely non-scientific funding priorities and further distorted by politics in the peer review system could very well mislead us with regards to future predictions — can you prove we haven’t gone over the tipping point already? — even while presumably assessing the history of how we got to our current point pretty accurately?

      However you wish to categorize me, poo-poo to Al Gore! Hear hear to Gene Logsdon (even if he would disassociate himself from everything I just said)!

    • …not ALL Christians deny global warming sir. For a man complaining about how Gene has no evidence for his claims, perhaps you should have some before you make broad statements about an entire group of people.

    • Karl Mark Sisgone wrote this -“there are three kinds of people who poo-poo on people who poo-poo, those who can count and those who can’t.”
      Actually I just made that up. Sorry. Couldn’t resist

  9. Gene, great post once again. No doubt the human race is insane, it could even be argued more insane than the sheep you stand amongst here in mid-December. The Mifflin Rift strikes every year, after 40 years of living in that area it should seem like the climate, not the weather.
    On global warming: One thing is for sure, as you stated, the world is getting warmer. Whether we as humans have much to do with it, I doubt it. We way be contributing in the slightest way, but there are much larger forces in effect than our puny coal burnings.

  10. Gene, a few comments. 1) Global warming is serious. Yes mild winter is nice, i admit it, but look at the summer droughts around the entire U.S. as well as the hottest temperatures on record. That’s serious, and it’s not going to get any better. As a farmer you no doubt know if the temperature gets hot enough plants shut down to preserve moisture. Plants that shut down means no fruit, no fruit means we all go hungry. I’d recommend “Plan B 4.0″ for a good source of information about global warming, it’s actually science based and not just some guy spouting words like so many. Also, if global warming is a scam (as is claimed) then why are the Koch Brothers spending millions upon millions to fund anti-global warming campaigns? If it’s a scam, let the scam evidence fall in on itself. They’re spending millions to “debunk” global warming because if we get off oil the Koch brothers don’t get to roll in billions of dollars anymore. 2) The 2012 Mayan apocalypse thing is way over-hyped because fear and panic sell movies and books and survival items. However, as a historian myself, the 2012 date isn’t just a random thing, it’s been predicted by numerous people around the world that had no way of communicating… supposedly. I’m not rich enough to go travelling around the world to see each piece of evidence first hand. The 2012 thing is the ending of the Mayan long count calendar which is like a 6,000 year calendar or something as opposed to our 4 year calendar system (3 years of 365 days, then a leap year, then it starts over). Western civilizations sees “calendar end” and think “world go boom.” Mayan’s simply say the calendar starts over. The unpleasant thing is that in many Native beliefs when calendars (or worlds, or ages) end and start over they are usually accompanied by doom and gloom and world destruction. If one looks at all the world prophecies from the Mayans, to the Hopi, to Nostradamus (i know, he’s a crack head) to others, all of their “end time” prophecies sorta sync up so it’s kinda spooky. Will the world end 12-21-12? Who knows. I’ve heard all kinds of yes, and i’ve heard all kinds of no, and i’ve ever heard that nothing is ending but a great spiritual awakening will happen for the chosen few (how convenient) who will then lead mankind into a new age. Personally i hope the world meets a fiery demise. We’re vastly over populated, ruining the environment, on the verge of WW3, etc…a fiery demise would let us start over…and debt free! Think of all the free land you could farm gene once 3/4 of the world’s population is gone! We could build Utopia. I could be a king of my own country! Chances are nothing will happen, the world for the most part will still be shitty, and i’ll go sit on the toilet only to find that the roll of toilet paper is empty…that’s an apocalypse right there.

  11. My calender has 31 days in it this month. If the world were going to end, Big Business would’ve saved themselves some ink by not printing the last days of Dec. Then again, I have a bunch of 2013 calenders, Maybe this is their profit or my gullibility.

  12. I forgot to add that the worlds’ supply of Hostess Ho Hos, Ding Dongs and Twinkies will be nearly depleted before 2013.

    Yaaaay!

  13. Global warming is real and caused by man. Either you believe the vast majority of the scientific community, or you believe the biggest most profitable corporations on the planet.

    Who is lying? the guys who chose a career based on the search for knowledge and truth, but may have been corrupted by their desire for a couple thousand bucks in research grants? or the guys who chose a career to get rich, and stand to lose billions and billions of dollars of business if the public believes in global warming?

    This isn’t some crackpot calendar prediction thing. This is more like the tobacco companies lies and denials which generated billions in profits but millions of deaths. Truth vs. greed. Apparently greed is winning because something like half the country thinks global warming is a myth.

  14. At this moment, am agreeing with Small Farms, and also thinking about how our lives can change on a dime! Given the news from Newtown, CT. I was still living in Colorado when the Columbine shooting occurred and a high school friend’s daughter was shot. My own children were under lockdown almost 40 miles away. Have been crying on and off ever since hearing this news. Global warming is what it is, real or not, I’m no scientist, but I do know that we don’t have a clue what will happen tomorrow.

  15. I guess I’ve become a cynical old pot bellied bibber; most of what is on the news anymore to me is just marketing. It’s all about the Benjamins. Just before the last election, Billy Graham had a full page add in the Springfield, Ohio Sunday newspaper, urging people to vote for their “family values”. I called a friend of mine who lives north about eighty miles, and the Findlay Ohio newspaper had the same add. I called another friend, who lives in San Antonio (in a non “swing state”), and apparently Billy wasn’t so worried about them voting against their “family values”. Over the years, the Rev. Graham has crafted a large non profit empire by having his photo taken with one president after another: I don’t recall him ever disliking any war those guys started. He was busy selling his own brand of global warming. Did pretty well, too.

    Y2K could have been a catastrophe had it not been countermeasured; we’ve become dependent upon computers, and that’s good and bad. The same people who gave the worm to the Iranian centrifuges could just as easily shut down our electrical grids, cell phones, or what we’ve come to know as the internet. I’m pretty certain climate change is happening, too, but I don’t see where I can change it. This morning I saw a Hummer H2, pulling a trailer with a 4 wheeler on it, which made me smile, since it meant deer season was still in, and it wasn’t safe to cut firewood yet. These people help me appreciate how smart my dogs are.

  16. Actually the situation is no longer worth worrying about.

  17. No doubt the climate of the Earth is changing, and always has if you believe what scientists have to say.There were Ice Ages and the North Pole was Tropical at different times in the Earth’s history.All this long before humans were burning either Oil or Coal.And all this alarmist stuff about people, animals and plants are all going to die or be destroyed by a couple of degrees in temperature change is too much to believe.Most plants and animal species have a range or terroitory that varies far more than a few degrees.No human I’m aware of died that moved from Canada to Florida because of the new climate conditions.Indeed most make the change because of the climate difference and this move takes place over only hrs on an airplane.I think a little Common Sense needs to be injected into the Climate debate regardless whether its a Warming Trend or Ice Age headed our way.
    The World’s not ending its just changing as it always has done both the Climate and the
    Economic conditions and humans have always shown that they are very adaptable to both.
    To think either one will from now on always remain the same is unrealistic and completely ignores history.

    • The problem isn’t that the Earth’s climate is changing; the problem is the RATE of change. For example – using brakes to stop a vehicle from highway speeds will normally result in a safe stop. However, allowing the vehicle to run into a solid wall at highway speeds will normally result in a fatal stop. The only difference is how quickly the vehicle is brought to rest.

      The rate of change, while not particularly damaging to mobile species, plays havoc with those species that are not mobile – i.e. most plants and their mycorrhizae and, in turn, the ecosystems that are built upon them.

      If we only watch what is happening – the time may come when enough ecosystems have collapsed that we can’t maintain our civilization.

      There are changes that can be made that, while disruptive, will allow our civilization to continue. On the other hand, a lack of planning and implementation may doom us all.

  18. is “Practical skills” available in ebook form? Loved the print version, still re- read .

  19. Wow. You really lost me here:
    “Can you imagine what would happen in today’s state of chronic paranoia if rivers started to freeze over in July? The great debate would be about a new ice age coming and we would be told that we must burn more coal, oil, and gas to encourage global warming.”

    And it goes downhill from there.

    Just a few minutes ago I was reading a brilliant blog entry of yours about carefully observing what chickens actually eat (instead of dictating their food supply) and being in touch with reality. What happened with the train wreck above?

    This post is what you wish to believe. You are selecting your scant evidence, and filling in the rest with uneducated opinion, unexamined assumptions, and wishful thinking. You are like the person who says “it is cold out today, so global warming is a myth.” Such a deep lack of understanding. Even worse, such a lack of even a willingness to try to understand reality.

  20. Great post. I still treasure hard cover copies of some your early books, had no idea you were on the blessed internet till I stumbled upon you!

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