November 24, 2017, 5:18 pm
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The Concept of Dread

“Life on this earth has often been disturbed by dreadful events.” [French naturalist Georges Cuvier, Revolutions on the Surface of the Globe, 1812]

Humankind's doomsday. Take your pick:

(1)     The Flood. “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.” [Genesis 7:11 (New International Version)]

(2)     Robot Apocalypse. “According to our estimate, 47 percent of total US employment is in the high risk category, meaning that associated occupations are potentially automatable over some unspecified number of years, perhaps a decade or two...As industrial robots are becoming more advanced, with enhanced senses and dexterity, they will be able to perform a wider scope of non-routine manual tasks. From a technological capabilities point of view, the vast remainder of employment in production occupations is thus likely to diminish over the next decades.” [Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne, The Future Of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs To Computerisation? September 17, 2013; http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf]

(3)     “Carrington Event” in 1859. “As electronic technologies have become more sophisticated and more embedded into everyday life, they have also become more vulnerable to solar activity. On Earth, power lines and long-distance telephone cables might be affected by auroral currents, as happened in 1989. Radar, cell phone communications, and GPS receivers could be disrupted by solar radio noise. Experts who have studied the question say there is little to be done to protect satellites from a Carrington-class flare. In fact, a recent paper estimates potential damage to the 900-plus satellites currently in orbit could cost between $30 billion and $70 billion.” [A Super Solar Flare; https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/06may_carringtonflare]

(4)     Food Supply Chain Apocalypse. “Food insecurity will be one of the largest risks to global society over the next 10 years. The world’s resources are under huge stress and the issue of food security is receiving growing attention. Food security is a situation where ‘all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life’. The average person needs 2,300 calories per day to live a healthy and active life. On average, in wealthy nations there is enough for each person to eat an additional 1,100 calories, while in low-income countries, national food supplies fall 100 calories short.” [Lloyd’s of London, Feast or famine: Business and Insurance Implications of Food Safety and Security]

(5)     A super storm. A massive hurricane is only one of the many incidents that may occur at any given time. [Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Dehart, https://www.army.mil/article/100871/Hurricane__Z__makes_landfall__Max_Brooks_joins_Army_North_s_hurricane_rehearsal/]

(6)     Pandemic. “If the government isn’t prepared to deal with the next big hurricane, or earthquake, or terrorist attack, how then can we expect anything but confusion, communication gaps, and systemic breakdown when facing something as horrific as a zombie outbreak? Claims of a streamlined, vigilant post 9/11 government fall flat when compared to (James F.) Miskel’s mountain of hard evidence and reasoned insights. Unfortunately, it seems clear that when the dead rise to hunt the living we are all, quite literally, on our own.” [http://zombieresearchsociety.com/archives/2322]

(7)     Terrorism, jihadism, ISIS, etc. “The nature of terrorism has changed dramatically in the last thirty years. In 1980, only two of 64 active terrorist groups had an overtly religious self-identification or agenda. By 2004, of 113 active terrorist groups, about half had explicitly religious self-identities and motivations (an assessment that depends on a narrow definition of religion and is probably conservative). More importantly, the attacks with the greatest number of casualties have been conducted by religious groups or individuals associated with religious groups. Despite the fact that such groups differ widely in their cultural contexts, as a scholar I find that they exhibit the characteristics of a thought system that biblical scholars call 'apocalypticism,' which has been around for thousands of years. However, apocalypticism in and of itself can give rise to either peace or violence. Those apocalyptic groups that do commit violence accept the basic apocalyptic worldview that others do, plus a steady set of other propositions, resulting in a reality map that I call 'radical apocalypticism'.” [Frances L. Flannery, Understanding Apocalyptic Terrorism: Countering the radical mindset]

(8)     The great dying. "One-third of all reef-building corals, a third of all freshwater mollusks, a third of sharks and rays, a quarter of all mammals, a fifth of all reptiles, and a sixth of all birds are headed toward oblivion.” [Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History; https://us.macmillan.com/excerpt?isbn=9780805092998]

Apocalypse no. 9. Bloodsuckers. “We tried to turn away; but still,  Above we heard her sorrow thrill; And those that slept, they dreamed of ill, And dreadful things: Of skies grown red with rending flames, And shuddering hills that cracked their frames; Of twilights foul with wings” [Conrad Aiken, The Vampire, https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/anthology/vampire-poems] What is yet to come?

“After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!'. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.” [The third part of the secret revealed at the Cova da Iria-Fatima, on 13 July 1917; http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000626_message-fatima_en.html]
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