Scientific American’s Website Warns of Impending Apocalypse By Steven Rowitt, Ph.D.
No, this is not really going to happen, at least not the way this story indicates it will. This is not an advertisement for some biblical prophecy conference. It is my paraphrase of the title of an article that appeared on the website of the prestigious science periodical, Scientific American. The article by former physicist and columnist Madhusree Mukerjee (2012) was originally entitled, Apocalypse Soon: Has Civilization Passed the Environmental Point of No Return?
The piece opens with a tongue-in-cheek reference to the doomsday scenario built around the Mayan calendar. Ms. Mukerjee characterizes this urban legend as being the misinterpretation of the Mayan timeline by doomsday enthusiasts. Perhaps the Mayan’s had a strikingly accurate premonition concerning the end of life on planet earth. Or, as others and I believe, they merely ran out of ink and thought they had done their due diligence concerning the ability of future generations of Mayans to plan for upcoming events.
What the original article reports was based on a book entitled Limits to Growth (Meadows, Randers, & Meadows, 2004). It turns out that this book is another (three and counting) rehashing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) computer model’s predictions called World3. These forecasts of gloom and doom are based on that very same “bitterly disputed 1972 book that originally explicated these (World3) findings. The researchers argued that the global industrial system has so much inertia that it cannot readily correct course in response to signals of planetary stress” (Mukerjee, 2012). That’s right. The planet just can’t take it anymore. It’s a good thing Mother Earth has prophets of her very own to warn of impending destruction. It seems that if we do not collectively repent of our sins against the planet and take corrective action immediately that all will be lost.
Fast forward to 2012 and Mukerjee is sounding the clarion call that time is running out for humanity. She likens the situation to the old Road Runner and Wiley Coyote cartoons of Saturday morning fame and, as she puts it, “Don't look now but we are running in midair.” If you take her illustration to its logical conclusion, then Wiley Coyote (humanity?) is not only on the “running in midair,” he falling from a mile high precipice and is about to face plant and be buried under a gigantic anvil with Acme written on its side. When she reveals the reason for her angst, you might want to ask some follow-up questions about the sources science writer’s use when they want to warn us about the end of life as we now it.
Remember, these references to the end of the world are not being made with regard to what the Bible describes as being apocalyptic in nature. The end-time passages of the Bible are clearly related to ungodliness and the harm that sinful people can do to others, Rom. 1:18; Jude 15-18. The judgments of God listed in the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, clearly underscore that the reasons for these verdicts are directly linked to the sinfulness of man and not errors in his environmental policies:
Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Rev. 6:14-17
At this juncture, it is important to say unequivocally that those of us who are believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are firmly committed to being good stewards of what God has temporarily given over to our care. We believe that is what God intended when He instructed Adam to care for the Garden, Gen. 2:15, and that applies to all areas of a believer’s life. The Bible plainly states that God’s creation waits for the return of its Creator, Jesus of Nazareth. He is the living Word of God who spoke the universe into existence in six 24-hour days declaring as He ceased from His labors that all He had created was “very good,” Gen. 1:31; Col. 1:15-20; Heb. 1:10. The creation and all that is contained therein, labors under a curse. The curse was brought about by Adam’s disobedience and it has an adverse effect on everything; therefore man’s sinfulness and his selfish tendencies must be addressed. The problem we have with the so-called green arm of the environmentalist movement has to do with what we consider alarmist tendencies based on dubious scientific methods and conclusions.
That said, we also disagree with the solution to this problem. If the flaw is with mankind, then the solution is the gospel, the good news that God fundamentally transforms sinners into saints when they place their faith in His Messiah, Eph. 2:8-9. That is the true solution for what ails mankind. Rehabilitation may work superficially, we may exchange our habits (and addictions) for less destructive behaviors, but changing people from the inside out is God’s plan and it cannot be accomplished without divine intervention. God does not reform, He transforms, II Cor. 5:17-21. That is God’s prescription for what ails mankind. He is the great Physician. He is the only One who can take our your wicked and deceitful heart, Jer. 17:6, and replace it with a circumcised heart, one that is dedicated to God, Ez. 36:26-27. That is how people (Jews and Gentiles) enter into the New Covenant, Jer. 31:31-37. And that is what the Messiah was referring to when He told Nicodemus, a leader of the Sanhedrin, “You must be born again,” John 3:3.
So, what is the reason that Scientific American’s website has published this article? The writer lets us in on the basis for her concern. She is touting a new book entitled, 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years (Randers, 2012). Why should we be interested? Well, she admits that this new book was written by one of the original World3 modelers. The author of 2052, Jorgen Randers, is a card-carrying, bona fide gloom and doomer. He is an expert who is now telling us that in the second half of the 21st century…what for it, …what for it, … what for it, … that’s right, global warming will bring the civilizations of the world to the very precipice of the apocalypse, to the absolute eve of destruction!
Not wanting to be accused of giving only one opinion of just how bad things are, Ms. Mukerjee offers Dennis Meadows as an additional voice of support. Dr. Meadows is professor emeritus of systems policy at the University of New Hampshire and he headed (emphasis added) the original M.I.T. team that designed the Word3 program. He revisited the World3 project in 1994 and 2004 and Professor Meadows has an even darker view of the future today than he did before. It appears that failure to thwart the worst-case scenario by heeding the previous warnings of these experts has led to the worst-case-ever situation for mankind. This collapse, according to Meadows, Randers and others, appears to be already underway.
According to Randers (2012), this perfect storm is a combination of, “Food per capita is going down, energy is becoming more scarce, and groundwater is being depleted.” Most worrisome, Randers notes, “greenhouse gases are being emitted twice as fast as oceans and forests can absorb them. Whereas in 1972, humans were using 85 percent of the regenerative capacity of the biosphere to support economic activities such as growing food, producing goods and assimilating pollutants, the figure is now at 150 percent—and growing” (Mukerjee, 2012).
When you couple the newest data with the projections of Randers’s ideas concerning lethal global warming, these doomsday predictions are truly frightening. He contends that the cumulative result of these problems will reach critical mass sometime after mid-century, when global warming will reinforce itself by, for instance, igniting fires that turn forests into net emitters rather than absorbers of carbon. “Very likely, we will have war long before we get there,” Randers adds grimly. He expects that mass migration from lands rendered unlivable will lead to localized armed conflicts (Mukerjee, 2012).
I thought that I had correctly positioned myself in sunny South Florida when I heeded the warning concerning the coming ice age in the 1970’s. By the way, this admonition of the coming mini ice age in the ‘70’s has become such an embarrassment to global warming enthusiasts (oops, I mean climate change) that websites have popped up debunking the fact that the threat of a big freeze was ever really a problem at all. They contend that it was only a minority of scientists that believed global cooling was a problem. Oh well, I guess science really is decided by majority rule after all.
Enquiring minds might want to know why our forest fighting capabilities would not improve with time as 2052 approaches or why dwindling food resources will eventually lead to a third World War. Perhaps Randers has been watching “Doomsday Preppers” or reruns of “Livin’ for the Apocalypse.” There is one thing I would like to add to these dire predictions. The Word of God agrees that the world’s economy will collapse just prior to the Second Coming. In fact, the Bible describes a time of tribulation that has never been experienced previously. The Messiah Himself warned:
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened, Matt. 24:21-22.
I find it ironic that these worst-case scenarios that unbelievers attribute to the mismanagement of earth’s resources are ultimately linked to God’s righteous judgment concerning the ungodliness of man. I see that the biblical description of the economic collapse of the civilization, e.g. working an entire day for a loaf of bread, is foretold in the last book of the Bible. I also noted that the items of luxury in the first century, oil and wine, are not to be harmed. This is reference to the fact that the rich can always continue their lifestyles in times of economic hardship; however, putting your faith in the god of escrow will nevertheless end in disaster, I Tim. 6:9, 17; James 1:9-10.
When He broke open the third seal, I heard the third living creature call out, Come and look! And I saw, and behold, a black horse, and in his hand the rider had a pair of scales (a balance). And I heard what seemed to be a voice from the midst of the four living creatures, saying, A quart of wheat for a denarius [a whole day’s wages], and three quarts of barley for a denarius; but do not harm the oil and the wine! Rev. 6:5-6
I am not surprised that there is absolutely no change in the belief system that fuels the thought of many in the scientific community. Leaving God out of the equation, whether it is evolutionary dogma or global warming is of little consequence. Because of this blind spot, we should not expect anything else but a steadfast commitment to the religion of naturalism and allegiance to the pseudo science of global climate change from most of the scientific establishment. They are remaining true to their core beliefs that we are alone in the cosmos, with the possible exception of alien progenitors ala Directed panspermia (Crick & Orgel, 1973), and no one and nothing is going to come to our rescue.
As scientists remain committed to naturalism and secular humanism, they will no doubt continue to leave God out of their worldview. I am certain that we will see more books, studies, and news articles concerning the terrible fate that awaits mankind because of our failure to save the dying planet. As we see the day of the Lord’s return approaching, we should tell others about His sacrifice of love on their behalf. Tell them that the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world is going to return and fulfill His covenant promises according to His Word. And when He comes again, it is not as gentle Jesus meek and mild, but as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Jesus of Nazareth is coming again and this should inspire us to redouble our efforts to share the glorious gospel of our Creator, Jesus of Nazareth, Who is the the King of the Universe and the true Savior of world:
For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us, Is. 33:22
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph,” John 1:45.
Crick, F. H. & Orgel, L. E. (1973). Directed Panspermia. Icarus 19: 341–348. Francis Crick was a co-discoverer of the double helical structure of the DNA molecule. Crick found it impossible that the complexity of DNA could have evolved naturally so he and British chemist Leslie Orgel proposed that small grains containing DNA, or the building blocks of life, could be loaded on a brace of rockets and fired randomly in all directions. Crick and Orgel estimated that a payload of one metric ton could contain 1017 microorganisms organized in ten or a hundred separate samples. This would be the best, most cost effective strategy for seeding life on a compatible planet at some time in the future.
Meadows, D., Randers, J. & Meadows, D. (2004). Limits to Growth. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company.
Mukerjee, M. (2012). Apocalypse Soon: Has Civilization Passed the Environmental Point of No Return? Scientific American Online. Retrieved 5.23.12.
Mukerjee. M. (2012). Ibid.
Mukerjee. M. (2012). Ibid.
Randers, J. (2012). 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company.