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Entries in pessimism (2)


Doomsday 1999 A.D. (1981)

While perusing the shelves of a great Portland bookstore (Portland, OR really has the best used book stores in the country) I stumbled across the book Doomsday 1999 A.D. by Charles Berlitz and immediately flipped to the last chapter.

In the "apocalypse porn" genre you'll find that the final chapter is where the author either hedges his bets (maybe we won't all die, after all...) or offers an absurd possibility for the survival of mankind (let's spike foreign food aid with anti-fertility drugs!). Berlitz chooses to do a bit of both with a chapter called "The Arks of the Future."

Below is an excerpt from the final chapter of the book.

Although the idea of piloted UFOs and intelligent life in space is usually considered with a certain amount of sardonic humor, it nevertheless remains a possibility and should be considered as an added opportunity for Earth's peoples, through knowledge of its drive and methods, to develop another means of escape from our environment if or when it becomes untenable.

Our legends from an earlier world tell us of a great ship or ships which provided a refuge in far places of the earth, but perhaps after the next catastrophe Earth itself may become inimicable to humanity. Our survival plans should therefore be predicated on an intensified exploration of space; not only to find a refuge but also to expand our observation of the universe, to be able thereby to avoid or control dangers within the cosmos which may even now be drawing closer to Earth.


Previously on Paleo-Future:



The Future of Futurism

A June 29, 2006 Slate piece by Reihan Salam reflects on futurism and had some fascinating insights. An excerpt appears below.

Even so, it's not fair to say that all futurism is misguided. Just most of it. In his 1976 Time essay "Is There Any Future in Futurism?" Stefan Kanfer wrote that you could divide futurists into neo-Malthusians and Cornucopians. Neo-Malthusians are convinced that the world is going to hell. Some, like The Population Bomb's Paul Ehrlich, blamed population growth; others, like the Club of Rome, blamed economic growth. Either way, the prescription remained the same: You've got to change your evil ways, Earthlings.

Is Futurism Dead? (New York Times, 1982)
Progress to Counter Catastrophe Theory? (1975)
Going Backward into 2000 (1966)
The Population Bomb: Scenario 1 (1970)
The Population Bomb: Scenario 2 (1970)
The Population Bomb: Scenario 3 (1970)