Friday, July 23, 2010

Apocalypse Soon?


[New Orleans, Louisiana August 29, 2005. A taste of more to come?]


I'm currently reading a book called "The Flooded Earth" by Peter D. Ward, professor of biology at Washington University in Seattle. The book makes predictions concerning global warming and it's affects on mankind.

Personally, I always take predictions with a little skepticism. According to Yogi Berra "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."

However the data concerning global warming seems to be very compelling.

The whole problem began in Britain about 1790. Steam engines became more advanced and these were powered by coal. Thus began the Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution is the basis for all the wealth of modern society. In pre-industrial times, life was hard, painful and short for most people, as it still is for example in rural Africa today. When we think of all the miracles and advances of science, we are generally referring to the Industrial Revolution and all it's byproducts, such as good health care, plentiful food (grown with modern fertilizer and machinery), etc. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the earth's population has increased about nine fold. Average life expectancy has more than doubled. Without the Industrial Revolution, I would be writing with a quill pen on parchment by dim candlelight, if I knew how to write at all. Children often had to work the fields rather than go to school, and no money was available to pay a teacher. The chance of mankind reverting to a pre-Industrial way of life is of course nil. Bear in mind that the Industrial Revolution is still continuing full swing in China and India, which at this moment are building endless new factories, power plants, cars, etc. Industrialization is only rapidly accelerating, in spite of all the good intentions of Al Gore and others. The treaties to stop climate change are all just so much hot air. (No pun intended!) No one is voluntarily going back to 1750 and there is no cheap, clean substitute for coal.

The only small problem with the Industrial Revolution is that it may kill most of mankind off. We may consider the Industrial Revolution to be a sort of global thermonuclear war in very slow motion.

Here's why.

The burning of coal, along with gasoline and natural gas, which became commonly used for fuel after 1908 and 1950 respectively, creates carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a "greenhouse gas" which tends to make the earth warmer. As the earth becomes warmer, the Arctic and Antarctic ice will melt. Coastal areas will experience more frequent flooding and finally will become submerged. (Hurricane Katrina was a preview.) Many of the world's coastal areas are heavily populated urban or agricultural zones. Tropical and temperate regions will suffer more frequent drought and crop failures. Malnutrition and disease will become more widespread.

This is more or less comparable to the effects of a total global thermonuclear war, the main difference being that this disaster will happen over several centuries instead of over a few months. It's ironic that in the long term all the alleged wonders and miracles of science may do more harm than good.

What's interesting about this is that according to Jewish eschatology, this world will last only 6000 years and the Messiah must arrive before that (Talmud Sanhedrin 97a at the bottom of the page). The year 6000 of the Jewish calendar corresponds to the Christian year 2240. Furthermore, the Talmud predicts a great deal of suffering before the advent of the Messiah, "R. Johanan said: When thou seest a generation overwhelmed by many troubles as by a river, await him, as it is written, when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him;(Isaiah 59:19) which is followed by, And the Redeemer shall come to Zion. (Isaiah 59:20)" (Talmud Sanhedrin 98a)

However the Talmud also states there "R. Eleazar's disciples asked him: 'What must a man do to be spared the pangs of the Messiah?' [He answered,] 'Let him engage in [Torah] study and benevolence'."

So drive a Toyota Prius if you like. I do, by the way. However Torah study and helping others, not environmentalism, is our only possible hope.

29 comments:

Mahla said...

Didn't God promise Noah that he would never again destroy the Earth by water, though?

I thought that a premise of global warning is that the Earth would be destroyed by the rising water.

This is one reason some Evangelical Christians (for example) do not believe that global warming could be a real threat.

It makes me wish I were more familiar with Jewish eschatology.

NC said...

Good analysis, but I wouldn't write man off just yet. We have remarkable ability to adapt. But yes, unless something changes, man will become extinct in a few hundred years.

Solar Eclipse said...

Has it ever occurred to you that environmentalism IS benevolence? What exactly are you proposing--is it that we do nothing to protect the environment and just pray for some divine rescue?

Humans made this mess, and humans have to clean it up. That doesn't mean going back to the 1700s. Haven't you ever heard of clean and renewable energy, such as solar, wind, and geothermal? What about technology to store CO2 under the ocean? All of these are not only doable; they have been possible for at least 30 years. It is only greed, specifically by the oil industry and its lobbyists, that have prevented us from making this change. China, India, and Third World countries see that the US is the biggest consumer of fossil fuels and is doing nothing to change to cleaner sources of energy, and as a result, they have no incentives to set up any environmental protections as they industrialize.

The Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act of the 1970s helped bring many species back from the brink of extinction and did a lot to improve our air and water quality. The same is true for environmental regulations regarding construction. Are you saying we shouldn't have bothered to do these and just prayed instead?

The future of the world is up to us, and environmental activism is the only way to change it.

On another topic, the calendar year is not "Christian." It is civil or secular. That is why science writing, in textbooks and scholarly publications, has largely switched to using BCE/CE if they use suffixes at all.

Garnel Ironheart said...

However destruction of the Earth by flooding is expressively ruled out by God after the first flood.

jewish philosopher said...

"Didn't God promise Noah that he would never again destroy the Earth by water"

Global warming won't bring a global flood. But it will cause flooding among other problems.

"What exactly are you proposing--is it that we do nothing to protect the environment and just pray for some divine rescue?"

Realistically, everything being done is too little too late. Check out Ward's book. The world is simply in denial or people don't really care if future generations, or the population of a different part of the world, will suffer. The Chinese aren't going to close their factories today so that Bangladesh doesn't go under water in 100 years.

"the calendar year is not Christian."

It counts from the birth of Jesus.

SJ said...

1) Global warming is fake.

2) The New Testament predicted global disasters in the end times before the Talmud did.

jewish philosopher said...

1) You're fake.

2) Ezekiel 38-39 predicted the war of Gog and Magog in the end times before the New Testament did.

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1238.htm

Solar Eclipse said...

The dating system in use has gone through many changes. It was originally created by a sixth-century monk to determine the date of Easter. Most historians and even Christian theologians acknowledge it does not accurately count from the birth of Jesus, which could have happened anytime from 12-4 BCE.

The months of the year and days of the week are named for Roman gods. Does that mean they are Roman or pagan? No, because they have evolved into use on a secular level. Similarly, the dating system today is simply a secular system used to synchronize time keeping around the world. Its use is a leftover from European colonialism. The majority who use it are not Christian (it is used for civil purposes even in China and India) and likely couldn't care less if the year were 3010 instead of 2010.

As for the environment, we have to do whatever we can and assume it's not too little too late. What exactly are these acts of benevolence you propose, if they do not involve taking care of the Earth? There is more awareness of the potential disaster we face today than ever before. Saying we can't fix it is equivalent to giving up with the attitude of, why bother?

The religious aspect is an excuse even if one believes in the promise of no more floods to destroy the Earth. God may have said he would never bring another flood. He never said he would intervene to stop humanity if we caused such a flood ourselves.

SJ said...

1) The Earth may in fact be cooling.


2) Granted. NT gives a fuller picture as well as original predictions.

jewish philosopher said...

"C.E." rather thann "A.D." has only been used for about the last 20 years. Note the Apollo 11 plaque: "July 1969 A.D."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:A11.plaque.jpg

A.D. of course means ''in the year of our Lord''.

"we have to do whatever we can and assume it's not too little too late."

As I said, buy a Prius, it's a great car, I love mine. But anything being done by environmentalists is probably the equivalent of spraying some water onto the World Trade Center after the planes hit.

Bear in mind that even in the United States, about one quarter of the population doesn't even believe in global warming.

http://www.pollingreport.com/enviro.htm

I'm sure that in India, China or Brazil there isn't much concern about it.

Mahla said...

Solar Eclipse said: "God may have said he would never bring another flood. He never said he would intervene to stop humanity if we caused such a flood ourselves."

That is a really good point; I'd never thought about it that way before.

not at all convinced said...

JP, your logic of your conclusion reminds me of the famous helicopter joke-- rejecting all of the god-sent natural means of saving ourselves, and instead relying on miracles.

Not very sound theology.

jewish philosopher said...

Except here, there is no helicopter. The Kyoto Protocol will stop global warming as well as a Styrofoam cup will stop a freight train.

davidf15x said...

Jacob, sorry to hear you have fallen for global warming theology--alas, it is not my religion and I would have thought not yours as well.

Very little science is behind it and I have found no significant thinker who believes the theory as a compelling force. The fact that there is slight warming is very true and easy to prove--the belief that mankind's co2 emmisiions are responsible is so tough to prove--no one has done it yet. It looks natural because it is natural.

Those who endorse evolution also generally endorse global warming and this makes you stick out a bit in their company but the world is full of contradictions.

I simply believe if you stay with the issue and read about it over a long period of time, you will see that it all falls apart and there is very little to it. Do you think this was the first flood in New Orleans? Greenland is so named because it once was Green Land instead of a big ice cube.

jewish philosopher said...

I was careful to point out "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."

However I think it is striking that the predictions of most scientists do seem to parallel some statements from the Talmud regarding the Messiah.

And Torah study and helping others surely can't do any harm.

NC said...

"However I think it is striking that the predictions of most scientists do seem to parallel some statements from the Talmud regarding the Messiah."

It is also interesting that in that same Talmudic passage it is predicted that the Messiah would have come 1700 years ago.

Maybe he really was Jesus!

jewish philosopher said...

Well, actually the problem with Jesus is quite simple. The Messiah means "anointed king", meaning a political and military leader of at least the Jews. You might compare it to the office of President of the United States. It does not mean "prophet", "psychic", "faith healer", "miracle worker", "mystical guy with a beard and a funny robe", "guru" or anything else.

Therefore, there is no doubt about someone being or not being the Messiah, just like you can't imagine saying "maybe" Joe Shmoe is the President. He is or he isn't and it's obviously one way or the other.

Christians have been in denial about this for about 2,000 years, similar to how atheists have been in denial about the Watchmaker Analogy for 150 years.

NC said...

As for global warming, I think that the science is genuine, and from what I have read, the effects can already be seen, especially with changes in the hydrologic cycles. It also turns out that scientists predictions were actually overly optimistic and that the deterioration is happening more quickly than previously thought. By the end of this century, there will be severe a lasting changes in the earth's environment.

see www.350.org

Shalmo said...

SJ:

"The New Testament predicted global disasters in the end times before the Talmud did."

Actually SJ the New Testament blatantly said Jesus would return in the lifetimes of his earthly ministry, which never happened

Jesus falsely prophesies DIRECTLY to the high priest (Caiphas) that he would live to see his second coming. Jesus uses the term “coming on the clouds of heaven”. This clearly negates the “coming” as the resurrection but as a return to the earth on CLOUDS, not his return in human form from the dead. Matthew 26:64 & Mark 14:62.

Jesus mistakenly tells his followers that he will return and establish his kingdom within their lifetime. Matthew 23:36 & 24:34

YET AGAIN, Jesus claims those standing RIGHT BEFORE HIM shall see the Armageddon. Matthew 16:28 “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Don’t let Christians lie to you and claim Jesus was referring to his modern day believers. The words “some standing HERE will not taste death” clearly refutes such nonsense. Obviously the people he was speaking to died, and curiously Jesus STILL isn’t here to claim his kingdom.

Matthew 10:23 also has Jesus telling his disciples that the second coming will occur before the disciples finish preaching in Israel: "When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes." (Matthew 10:23 NAB)

Jesus says that all that he describes (his return, signs in the sun, moon, wars, stars, etc.) will occur within the lifetime of his listeners. He purposely defines their generation and NOT a future one. Considering that NONE of those signs took place during the resurrection and that he uses the term of “Heaven and earth shall pass away”, Clearly Jesus is prophesizing that nearly 2,000 years ago Armageddon SHOULD have occurred. Luke 21:25-33

Shalmo said...

JP:

"What's interesting about this is that according to Jewish eschatology, this world will last only 6000 years and the Messiah must arrive before that (Talmud Sanhedrin 97a at the bottom of the page)."

Are you making a definitive position? If the jewish messiah does not come by the year 2240, since that is the timeline you have set for it, will it be ok for all us to abandon Judaism as a disproved hypothesis?

All over Jewish tradtion we find failed messianic predications. Rashi's date in particular comes to mind. Then there is Hillel, who denied a messiah altogether saying Jews already enjoyed their messiah in the time of Hezekiah

Are you familiar with the 70 weeks prophecy in Daniel? Do you know why all of 1st century Judea was enamoured with messianic zeal, expecting the messiah to return any minute? Because Jews were familiar with the date assigned by the prophet Daniel. The rabbis had a problem with this, so they removed Daniel from the Neviim to reduce his status. Was it Jesus?

Anonymous said...

If the messiah comes along, I'll repent then. Otherwise, I don't buy any of the conspiracy theory BS you are peddling.

jewish philosopher said...

I would assume that repentance at that point will not be acceptable.

In any case,if a man says: "I will sin and repent, and sin again and repent" he will be given no chance to repent (Yoma 8:9).

No BS allowed.

NC said...

"I would assume that repentance at that point will not be acceptable. "

Perfect. As long as uncertainty about god and torah prevails, only then can you repent.

Then, when all uncertainty is eliminated and god actually reveals himself clearly to all (presumable for the purpose of increasing his glory and showing people their errors), no new followers or repentance is allowed. Only JP and people like him are grandfathered in.

Makes a lot of sense, NOT!!

jewish philosopher said...

"As long as uncertainty about god and torah prevails, only then can you repent."

There is no uncertainty for people who are honest and sober.

SJ said...

Sham-o www.bible.cc has commentaries regarding what you bring up.

In any case I have no need to justify the Bible to someone Islamic and to you particularly because you twist stuff around.

Shalmo said...

SJ you have a habit of running away to christian apologetic baloney websites rather than face whats right in front of you, which is why you still believe their bullshit of isaiah 7:14 and isaiah 53 pointing to Jesus, which even JP can refute

I could provide you a thousand links refuting your links too. Try this:


http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/

http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

SJ said...

Islam even accepts the virgin birth of Christ.

Rabbi Shaul said...

Peter Ward is a writer, (google search his bio) a paleontologist and professor of Biology and of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle. He has NOT ONE, peer reviewed paper on global climate change or anything related. He is not a scientist of climatology. He is a business man. To understand "Climate change" as coined by the media, you need to dig, or scientifically minded individuals would say: " study the facts, do some experiments, create hypothesis...

The problem with climate change is that the " world eco system" is much to large, interlinked and complex to be recreated in a laboratory thus experiments will always error. The hypothesis that the industrial revolution created or exacerbated the "warming of the earth" cannot be proved. It is a hypothesis, an educated guess, it may contribute, but how much can not be determined or proved. Thus the "business of Science" gets in the way of FACT. The truth is that: Science, as many aspects of civilization is a business.

I am a writer, an educated person who understands "the big picture".
Anytime the "media" tells you something, either the radio, book, TV, internet, etc. pause and ask yourself: Why? what is their motivation for telling me this?

Rabbi Shaul said...

Peter Ward is a writer, (google search his bio) a paleontologist and professor of Biology and of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle. He has NOT ONE, peer reviewed paper on global climate change or anything related. He is not a scientist of climatology. He is a business man. To understand "Climate change" as coined by the media, you need to dig, or scientifically minded individuals would say: " study the facts, do some experiments, create hypothesis...

The problem with climate change is that the " world eco system" is much to large, interlinked and complex to be recreated in a laboratory thus experiments will always error. The hypothesis that the industrial revolution created or exacerbated the "warming of the earth" cannot be proved. It is a hypothesis, an educated guess, it may contribute, but how much can not be determined or proved. Thus the "business of Science" gets in the way of FACT. The truth is that: Science, as many aspects of civilization is a business.
When the media in a book, radio, TV or internet tells you something pause and ask yourself the quesition: Why? what is their motivation.