If we live...
Just in the past two years, there have been two great earthquakes that have devastated populated areas and many other smaller ones that have also done great damage, the Amazon has virtually dried up, the Arctic has begun to melt, the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps have become unstable, and the weather has turned into a complex monster.
What is so interesting about this is that our planet is not the only one in the solar system that appears to be affected. There have been signs of unusual weather on Saturn, and Mars appears to be experiencing polar cap decline not dissimilar to our own.
Now a scientific paper has been published suggesting that increased solar activity over the past decade has resulted in the sun contributing anywhere from ten to thirty percent of the additional heat that's going into global warming.
In fact, it doesn't just suggest this, it goes a long way toward proving it. This will be taken by some people to mean that we needn't bother about global warming because it's the sun's fault. But, of course, it's not ALL the sun's fault and we can and must do something about the part that's our fault. The truth is that the added impact of solar heating makes the problem incredibly urgent. This planet's whole natural process is about to go into chaos, and when it does potentially billions of us are going to die, and the most vulnerable areas are the United States, Europe and China, so we Americans cannot expect to sit on the sidelines while the rest of the world suffers for our sins.
Anybody who doesn't burn to do something about the global warming problem is insane, and leaders who won't address it are in the process right now of committing the greatest crime against humanity that history has ever known.
When I worked on Superstorm, there were no models that factored in increased heating from the sun. But it's there all right, and therein lies the making of a catastrophe not unlike that prophesied as the end of the age, according to Jose Arguelles, by Pacal Votan, a Mayan ruler of the sixth century A.D.
I am beginning to see around me evidence that this man's prophecy was correct. Why that would be so is another matter entirely, and one that I cannot address except with speculation, but I can say that, if things keep deteriorating at the present rate, there are going to be environmental disasters of unprecedented ferocity in a few years, and I would not be surprised if they weren't upon us right around 2012.
There is no question at all that an age is coming to its end right now. In the past couple of years, the problems have become so obvious that they are very hard to ignore. The sun is more active than it has been in a thousand years. The magnetic pole is showing signs of a shift. Storms are becoming more frequent and catastrophic. Human pressure on the planet's natural functioning is rapidly overwhelming its ability to stay alive. Earth is dying.
And then there are the earthquakes and the subtle suggestions that great volcanic events might be impending. There are things nobody really understands, such as the hot spot east of Santa Barbara, California, and the signs of activity beneath some of the world's supervolcanoes.
The earthquakes are the strangest phenomenon. Why are they happening now? Are they in some way related to solar activity? If so, it's not something that our own science understands. We even have trouble understanding if there is a connection between earthquakes that take place in close time proximity but on unrelated faults.
There was a book published some years ago called Hamlet's Mill that suggested that much ancient symbolism was an attempt to warn the far future that earth every so often, perhaps on a regular cycle of about 12,500 years, went into a state of chaos.
Subsequent to the publication of this book, we have come to know that there was a complex series of cataclysms on this planet around 12,500 years ago, that led to the collapse of the world's then extensive glaciation and the beginning of the interglacial in which we have spent our entire recorded history.
There is all sort of evidence, commented upon by many authors, notably Rand and Rose Flem-Ath and Graham Hancock, to the effect that some sort of past civilization, advanced in ways that are hard for us to apprehend, was utterly destroyed during this time.
Sea levels rose fantastically during the glacial melt, and they rose fast, increasing hundreds of feet over just a few centuries. Nowadays, we live in what would have been the highlands of that period. Gigantic stretches of land that were present in those days now are gone. And there are suggestions, here and there, that there might be inundated cities and other structures, now far from land. But underwater archaeology is in its infancy, and geology has not produced more than a rough idea of where shorlines lay during the last glaciation. Add to that the probability that earthquakes have further altered landforms, and the chances of proveably detecting any unquestionable remains of even quite a large civilization become remote.
Nevertheless, in memory and in prophecy, we do have indications that this civilization was once there, and that it has tried to send warning forward.
We are living in the time it identified as the next age of chaos, and we would do well to acknowledge that fact as they did in their time, in order to do what they did, which is to project some remnant of what we have accomplished and what wisdom we have gained forward into the next human age.
It is fair to ask, then, what is to be done? I'm not a survivalist and I'm not going to recommend the purchase of flashlights and seeds. Time and chance will capture us all, and it will be a matter of luck and the moving finger on the wall who survives and who does not.
Best that we humbly acknowledge that, somehow, the past had possession of extremely potent knowledge. It's demonstrable: Mayan texts do identify 2012 as an epochal year; and the environment is disintegrating in ways that suggest that this prediction, made over a thousand years ago by a man who didn't even have use of the wheel, is perhaps the most potent human idea formed in all of our history. If he is correct, then it's not difficult to argue that his was the best mind that ever lived, at least during this particular cycle.
For nearly three million years, earth has been rocked by climactic instability. The periodic nature of ice ages suggests that the sun heats up over a vast cycle of thousands of years, causing the release of greenhouse gasses through natural means, resulting in a spike in air temperature that violently melts the ice and ushers in another interglacial when the sun suddenly changes and cools down again.
This gigantic solar cycle must exist now, but it has not always existed. Actually, the earth has spent huge, unimaginably long epochs in a condition of stability unlike anything we have known across the entire history of our development. During many of these periods, there were no polar caps, and life evolved slowly, impelled by the competition for living space into the myriad of forms and survival strategies that we see around us today.
For the past three million years, though, the opposite has been true. The continuous cycle of cooling and heating that the planet is now undergoing has wrought havoc in nature. The number of species has been in decline for that entire period, and has just now reached the peak of the bell curve. We will see a phenomenal dieoff in the next few years, a massive collapse in the number of life forms on the planet.
The extinction event that created us, in other words, is about to challenge our very existence.
It's not as if it hasn't happened before. In fact, every time there was a gigantic climate change, the primates reacted by adapting themselves anew to changed conditions. Were it not for the instability of the present situation, we would never have become an intelligent species.
Now, that intelligence must be called upon again, to get us through to the next period of relative calm. During this period, we will leave behind virtually everything we now understand as civilization. The consumer society will be the first to go, a victim of overpopulation and our failure to address the need to find new energy sources early enough. With it will go the United States as superpower. We are already in the last phases of that: like the British Empire in 1910, our country is overwhelmed with debt and beginning to treat the restless in its client states with extraordinary brutality. Next will be some cataclysm, perhaps the unexpected collapse of Saudi oil or the detonation of atomic bombs in our cites or a great plague--who knows what it will be--but on the other side of it, the world will no longer be dominated by a superpower.
At the same time and consequent to the fall of the superpower, will come a period of climate change so rapid that growing seasons worldwide will be disrupted at the same time that the large scale movement of food around the planet becomes problematic due to a lack of energy resources. This is likely to mean sickness and famine on a very broad scale, especially in areas that are not self sufficient in food.
It's not a pretty picture, and the failure of human leadership worldwide just at the time when creative innovation at the top was most essential has condemned us to vast suffering.
So, why don't I just go ahead and fall on my sword or put a gun to my head?
Because I am optimistic about the future, and I have good reason to be.
At the same time that all of these negative forces are gathering and arraying themselves against us like some kind of dark army of invincible soldiers with the monstrous weapons of the apocalypse, all aimed straight at our hearts, the mind of man is responding in ways that are so far beyond what we presently realize that they beggar description.
However, we are on a collision course with two destinies: the planet is about to throw us off like a horse switching its tail at a persisten dobson fly, while at the same time we are on the point of making a series of phenomenal scientific breakthroughs that may finally take the mind in the direction it has been trying to go ever since we looked up and saw the stars, which is outside of the body, into the surrounding world and universe, into total knowledge, total freedom and a future so fantastic that what we will be in fifty years will be so radically different from what we are now that we will be all but unrecognizable to ourselves.
If we live.
This has happened before. During the latter stages of the dinosaur age, the climate entered an unstable phase as well, which lasted about three million years before a the great cataclysm that delivered the coup de grace. During this time, the number of dinosaur species gradually declined, and highly intelligent--by dinosaur standards--new species such as Struthomimus--evolved. This fast, smart little beast came about as a response to a consistently challenging climate.
In modern (by geologic standards) times, the mammals responded to our own climate challenge by evolving another highly intelligent species--us. But we're a much better contender than Stuthomimus, and for a very specfic reason: we are intelligent enough and informed enough to induce further, even more rapid evolution in ourselves, and perhaps save ourselves and even our civilization, from the coming upheaval.
Indeed, I don't believe that a changing environment is actually our greatest enemy. Our greatest enemy is a part of nature that lies concealed within us. It is the death wish that arises out of excessive population pressure. This death wish began to be triggered a long time ago, in the middle of the eighteenth century, when a restlessness swept europe as cities grew in population, crowding and filthiness. By the middle of the nineteenth century, there had been two major revolutions, the French in the 1780s and the upheaval of the 1840s. In the United States in the 1860s, the first war of population destruction was fought. And then, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the firing of a single bullet into the brain of an archduke in Bosnia turned on a killing machine that we had invented in the form of the European arms race that had unfolded from 1890 through 1914.
That killing machine, started by that single bullet, has never since been turned off. It is directly responsible for the rise of communism and Naziism and the massive avalanche of death that they brought to this world. Indeed, I could take you, event by event, from that bullet to the latest death in Iraq and show you just how direct and unbroken that chain really is.
I could take you, also, through the wicked hell of opposing ideologies that keep the machine running, and show you how a larger sense of enmity, expressed again and again as a desire to enter one utopian condition or another, has been threatening man from within even as the environment threatens us from without.
But this is not a history lesson. It is about what lies ahead, because the machinery of death might at last coming to pieces, and, if it does, then the human mind is going to spring free, and there will be wonders.
A confluence of scientific discoveries holds almost immeasurable promise for us. We are in the position, probably for the first time in any of the cycles we have lived through, of taking possession of our own evolution, and therefore also of the nature that now controls our lives with its dangers, its arbitrary cycles, and its indifferent casting of species after species down into death.
Biological and informational technologies are about to come together in ways that are beyond startling, that suggest that we may finally leap free of the bondage of the death wish and all the silly superstitions and ideologies that flow out of it, from the myth of the good communist to the myth of the superman to the myth of the free market, to leave it all behind, and along with it the religious and social superstitions that drive our ideologies on the ash-heap of failed ideas and false gods.
As our ability to create ever more dense information nodes is increasing exponentially, so also is our ability to deliver information to the brain, and to alter ourselves in ways that enable us to process it with greater efficiency.
And this is only one of many areas in which science is progressing toward the exact sort of post-apocalyptic human state that has been prophesied, that we will reach superconciousness even as the world falls apart around us.
It turns out that our approaching this state isn't connected with some sort of magic at all, any more than the spirit hole through which Pacal Votan said that he would speak was woven of an incomprehensible magic. Just as ordinary science is going to make the magic of the superconscious human being a reality, it was that hole that enabled archaeologists to discover Pacal Votan's tomb, and bring his existence back to light.
Magic, when you understand it, is no longer magic, and we are rapidly reaching the ideal human condition, which is one in which the average person is too smart to believe in the deadly superstitions and ideologies that claw at us like evil trolls trying to prevent us from fulfilling our destiny, which is to take flight and fill the universe with human mind, human spirit and human being.
If we live...