All through history there have been people who make a living scaring the heck out of us about the end of the world. Way back when, it was pagan priests predicting the end of the world from study of chicken entrails, or astronomical observations, and the end could only be averted if you did what the nice priest asked. Organized religion got on the bandwagon, and people have found all kinds of doomsday prophesy in the Bible – picture the cartoon character sitting on the mountain, carrying a sign, “the end is near”. Predictions that our population would outgrow our ability to produce food have come up since Roman times, most notably a fellow named Malthus a couple hundred years ago. And since world war two, a whole industry of doom-saying has sprung up. It is a little different, in that you don’t have to worship the priest to save the planet, just beat up on the industrial west and put a world government in place.

First came nuclear war, and the fallout would kill us all. Then came population again, we would soon be starving, standing shoulder to shoulder over the whole planet. Then came pesticides, we were poisoning the entire planet. Then came nuclear winter – we needed our terror level topped up, so nuclear war was recycled, maybe the fallout wouldn’t kill us all, but all the dust from a nuclear war would give us a winter several years long, and we would all starve.

That looked like so much fun, they came up with the coming ice age, caused by all the dust from our industries reflecting the suns heat (world temperatures did fall slightly from 1940 to 1975). Somewhere along the way we had DDT and mercury and asbestos and PCB and dioxin. Then of course there was the famous ozone scam, under which we were all supposed to be cooked by space radiation because of the ‘hole in the ozone layer’ caused by aerosol cans. And who can forget Y2K, when all the computers would lose their minds from having to put 20 instead of 19 on the date, and blow up the world!

The current doomsday scam, global warming, is just the latest in a long string. Notice that in all these latter day scenarios, the villain is always industry, and the solution more government, along with a reduced standard of living.

Predicting the end of the world is popular with the doomsayers – it gets them all kinds of recognition and power. Well, except the poor schmuck sitting on the mountain with his sign, obviously he did not play his cards right. It is popular with government, both politician and bureaucrat, scaring the sweat out of people is a great way to get them to give the government more power. It is popular with the media, bad news sells papers. But it seems to also be popular with people – we must like to be scared, otherwise we would look at their string of disastrously wrong predictions, and pay them no more heed.

Or maybe it is just that any kind of propaganda or ‘big lie’ will gather a following, if it is repeated enough times.

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