Archive for the ‘Armageddon’ Category

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Cubans participate in a Mayan ritual at Bacuranao beach in eastern Havana.

Fears that the end of the world is nigh have spread across the world with only days until the end of the Mayan calendar, with doomsday-mongers predicting a cataclysmic end to the history of Earth.

Ahead of December 21, which marks the conclusion of the 5,125-year “Long Count” Mayan calendar, panic buying of candles and essentials has been reported in China and Russia, along with an explosion in sales of survival shelters in America. In France believers were preparing to converge on a mountain where they believe aliens will rescue them.

The precise manner of Armageddon remains vague, ranging from a catastrophic celestial collision between Earth and the mythical planet Nibiru, also known as Planet X, a disastrous crash with a comet, or the annihilation of civilisation by a giant solar storm.

In America Ron Hubbard, a manufacturer of hi-tech underground survival shelters, has seen his business explode.

“We’ve gone from one a month to one a day,” he said. “I don’t have an opinion on the Mayan calendar but, when astrophysicists come to me, buy my shelters and tell me to be prepared for solar flares, radiation, EMPs (electromagnetic pulses) … I’m going underground on the 19th and coming out on the 23rd. It’s just in case anybody’s right.”

In the French Pyrenees the mayor of Bugarach, population 179, has attempted to prevent pandemonium by banning UFO watchers and light aircraft from the flat topped mount Pic de Bugarach.

According to New Age lore it as an “alien garage” where extraterrestrials are waiting to abandon Earth, taking a lucky few humans with them.

Russia saw people in Omutninsk, in Kirov region, rushing to buy kerosene and supplies after a newspaper article, supposedly written by a Tibetan monk, confirmed the end of the world.

The city of Novokuznetsk faced a run on salt. In Barnaul, close to the Altai Mountains, panic-buyers snapped up all the torches and Thermos flasks.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, even addressed the situation.

“I don’t believe in the end of the world,” before adding somewhat disconcertingly: “At least, not this year.”

In China, which has no history of preoccupation with the end of the world, a wave of paranoia about the apocalypse can be traced to the 2009 Hollywood blockbuster “2012”.

The film, starring John Cusack, was a smash hit in China, as viewers were seduced by a plot that saw the Chinese military building arks to save humanity.

Some in China are taking the prospect of Armageddon seriously with panic buying of candles reported in Sichuan province.

The source of the panic was traced to a post on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, predicting that there will be three days of darkness when the apocalypse arrives.

One grocery store owner said: “At first, we had no idea why. But then we heard someone muttering about the continuous darkness.”

Shanghai police said scam artists had been convincing pensioners to hand over savings in a last act of charity.

Meanwhile in Mexico, where the ancient Mayan civilisation flourished, the end time has been seen as an opportunity. The country has organised hundreds of Maya-themed events, and tourism is expected to have doubled this year.

Nasa has been aggressively seeking to dispel doomsday fears. It says there is no evidence Nibiru exists, and rumours it could be hiding behind the sun are unfounded.

“It can’t hide behind the sun forever, and we would’ve seen it years ago,” a Nasa scientist said.

The space agency also rejected apocalyptic theories about unusual alignments of the planets, or that the Earth’s magnetic poles could suddenly “flip.”

Conspiracy theorists contend that the space agency is involved in an elaborate cover up to prevent panic.

But David Morrison, an astronomer at Nasa, said: “At least once a week I get a message from a young person, as young as 11, who says they are ill and/or contemplating suicide because of the coming doomsday. I think it’s evil for people to propagate rumours on the internet to frighten children.”

Mayans themselves reject any notion that the world will end. Pedro Celestino Yac Noj, a Mayan sage, burned seeds and fruits to mark the end of the old calender at a ceremony in Cuba. He said: “The 21st is for giving thanks and gratitude and the 22nd welcomes the new cycle, a new dawn.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9730618/Mayan-apocalypse-panic-spreads-as-December-21-nears.html

phosphorus

 

Investor Jeremy Grantham of GMO recently published a startlingly depressing outlook for the future of humanity. 

Grantham thinks the number of people on Earth has finally and permanently outstripped the planet’s ability to support us.

Grantham believes that the planet can only sustainably support about 1.5 billion humans, versus the 7 billion on Earth right now (heading to 10-12 billion).

Basically, Grantham thinks most of us are going to starve to death.

Why?

In part because we’re churning through a finite supply of something that is critical to our ability to produce food: Phosphorus.

Phosphorus is a critical ingredient of fertilizer, and there is a finite supply of it. The consensus is that we will hit “peak phosphorus” production within a few decades, after which point our phosphorus supply will inexorably decline. As it declines, we will be unable to feed ourselves. And you know the rest.

Of course, ever since Malthus, a steady stream of doomsayers have predicted a ghastly end to the human population explosion–and, so far, they’ve all been wrong.

So why is a man of Grantham’s intelligence adding his voice to this chorus?

And how real is this threat? Are we all going to starve?

Humans have been around for a while. But for most of our existence, our population was small and stable. Then it exploded.

Most of this explosion has come in the past 200 years–just as Malthus predicted. What Malthus did not foresee was the discovery of oil, commercial fertilizer, and other resources, which have (temporarily) supported this population explosion.

Most of this explosion has come in the past 200 years--just as Malthus predicted. What Malthus did not foresee was the discovery of oil, commercial fertilizer, and other resources, which have (temporarily) supported this population explosion.

GMO

For the past 100 years, technology has made these resources cheaper to extract and produce, which has made them ever cheaper. Grantham thinks that trend has now permanently ended.

For the past 100 years, technology has made these resources cheaper to extract and produce, which has made them ever cheaper. Grantham thinks that trend has now permanently ended.

GMO

Take oil, for example. Oil traded at about $16 a barrel for a century. Then, as demand outstripped supply, the “normal” price increased to ~$35 a barrel. Now, Grantham thinks “normal” is about ~$75 a barrel

Take oil, for example. Oil traded at about $16 a barrel for a century. Then, as demand outstripped supply, the "normal" price increased to ~$35 a barrel. Now, Grantham thinks "normal" is about ~$75 a barrel

GMO

Why are oil prices rising? Because oil demand is now growing far faster than oil supply. The world’s oil production has barely increased since the 1970s, while oil usage has exploded.

Why are oil prices rising? Because oil demand is now growing far faster than oil supply. The world's oil production has barely increased since the 1970s, while oil usage has exploded.

GMO

Demand is exceeding supply for other commodities, too. Like metals. Here’s a hundred-year look at the prices of Iron ore.

Demand is exceeding supply for other commodities, too. Like metals. Here's a hundred-year look at the prices of Iron ore.

GMO

But the real problem is food.

Over the past century, the world has produced ever more food from the same (relatively) finite supply of arable land. For example, this chart shows global wheat production in the past 50 years. The blue line is farmland. The yellow line is total wheat production. The pink line is “yield per hectare.” Production is rising because yield is increasing.

Why are crop yields increasing? Fertilizer.

Why are crop yields increasing? Fertilizer.

chuckoutrearseats via Flickr

In the past half-century, we have used an ever-increasing amount of fertilizer. Not just in total, but per acre. This chart, for example, shows the number of tons of fertilizer used per square kilometer of farmland.

In the past half-century, we have used an ever-increasing amount of fertilizer. Not just in total, but per acre. This chart, for example, shows the number of tons of fertilizer used per square kilometer of farmland.

GMO

And this leads us to the first problem. 40 years ago, the average growth rate of crop yields per acre was an impressive 3.5% per year. This was comfortably ahead of the growth rate of global population. In recent years, however, the growth in crop yields per acre has dropped to about 1.5%. That’s dangerously close to the growth of population.

And this leads us to the first problem. 40 years ago, the average growth rate of crop yields per acre was an impressive 3.5% per year. This was comfortably ahead of the growth rate of global population. In recent years, however, the growth in crop yields per acre has dropped to about 1.5%. That's dangerously close to the growth of population.

GMO

That brings us to the second problem. We don’t have an infinite supply of fertilizer.

For most of human history, we used “natural fertilizer” (poop). But then we started making more powerful stuff.

Commercial fertilizer requires, among other ingredients, potassium and phosphorus. There are finite quantities of both. Phosphorus, especially, is in short supply.

Phosphorus (P) is essential for life. Plants absorb it from fertilized soil, and then animals absorb it when they eat plants (and each other). When the plants and animals excrete waste or die, the phosphorus returns to the environment. Eventually, given enough time, it gets compressed into rock at the bottom of the ocean.

Phosphate is a critical ingredient of fertilizer, and there is no substitute for it (because plants are partially made from it). This photo shows the difference between corn fertilized with phosphorus (background) and corn without.

Most of the phosphate we use in commercial fertilizer comes from phosphate rock, which was once sediment at the bottom of the ocean. This mine is located in Togo.

In the past ~120 years, we have become completely dependent on phosphate rock for phosphorus used in commercial fertilizer. Before that, our phosphate came from manure.

As the human population grows, and emerging markets get richer and need more food and animal feed, we’re consuming more and more phosphorus (red line).

The amount of phosphate rock we use, therefore, continues to climb.

The trouble is that there isn’t an infinite amount of phosphate rock. Estimates differ on the amount of reserves available in the world, but they’re not unlimited. Some scientists think we have enough to last hundreds of years. Others, however, are far less optimistic.

The consensus of many scientists is that we will hit “peak phosphorus” production in about 2030. After that, phosphorus production is expected to decline.

As phosphorus production drops, crop yields will drop. And then, the concern is, we won’t be able to grow enough food to feed ourselves.

As phosphorus production drops, crop yields will drop. And then, the concern is, we won't be able to grow enough food to feed ourselves.

So is that it? Are we screwed?

Not necessarily. It turns out that our urine and feces contain a lot of phosphorus–which is why they make good fertilizer. If we got serious about recycling our bio-waste, we could reduce our need for phosphate rock.

But although conservation and recycling will help, they won’t fix the problem. Because a huge amount of phosphorus will still be lost to runoff. Phosphate that isn’t consumed by plants leaches out of the soil into rivers and then to the ocean.

So, eventually, the finite supply of usable phosphorus could be a big problem.

Jeremy Grantham, by the way, thinks the finite supply of fertilizer and limits of crop yields are starting to affect food prices. Soybean prices, for example, have jumped in the last 10 years.

So have corn prices.

And wheat prices.

So, why is all this happening now, when the global population has been exploding for two centuries? The answer, in part, is the spectacular growth of China, India, and other massive countries. The resource-usage of these countries is mind-boggling. Here, for example, are Grantham’s estimates of the percentage of world consumption of various resources that are consumed by China alone.

So, why is all this happening now, when the global population has been exploding for two centuries? The answer, in part, is the spectacular growth of China, India, and other massive countries. The resource-usage of these countries is mind-boggling. Here, for example, are Grantham's estimates of the percentage of world consumption of various resources that are consumed by China alone.

GMO

Common sense will tell you that finite resources can’t support infinite growth. And another look at the “growth curve” of human population shows why it might be silly to dismiss Malthus, et al, as “obviously wrong.” (Maybe they were just early).

Common sense will tell you that finite resources can't support infinite growth. And another look at the "growth curve" of human population shows why it might be silly to dismiss Malthus, et al, as "obviously wrong." (Maybe they were just early).

Human population.

Wikipedia

But here’s hoping science and ingenuity help us find a way to fix the problem.

But here's hoping science and ingenuity help us find a way to fix the problem.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/peak-phosphorus-and-food-production-2012-12?op=1#ixzz2E7yHKqnu

 
Thanks to SRW for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

b2The village of Bugarach attracts many  who believe that it will survive the  end of the World 21 December 2012article-2242176-161D29A6000005DC-874_634x424

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  • Bugarach – population: 176 – has been earmarked by doomsday cults as the only place in the world which is going to survive Armageddon
  • It is based on an interpretation of the Mayan calendar which claims a planet is on a crash course with Earth and will impact on December 21 2012
  • According to prophecy aliens will emerge from their ‘spaceship garage’ in the town’s Pic de Bugarach mountain and pluck believers to safety
  • ‘Authentic Bugarach stones’ are on sale for €1.50 a gram while a bottle of water from the local spring will cost an eye-watering €15
  • One landowner is offering up his four-bedroom home for £1,200 a night and can offer a camping space in his field for £324
  • ‘Apocalypse pizza’ and ‘End of the World vintage’ wine also available

Nestled in the rolling foothills of the French Pyrenees, market day in the tiny farming community of Bugarach has never been busier.

But shoppers aren’t there to sample the fresh meat, wine and dairy for which the town is locally famed, they are there to pick up their own piece of end-of-the-world memorabilia.

It is because Bugarach – population 176 – has been earmarked by doomsday cults as the only place in the world which is going to survive Armageddon, scheduled for December 21 this year by an ancient Mayan prophecy.

Modern interpretations of the forecast, heavily stoked by internet rumour, predict that aliens will emerge from their ‘spaceship garage’ hidden deep within the town’s imposing Pic de Bugarach mountain and pluck anyone in the vicinity to safety.

Now, Armageddon tourists and UFO spotters hoping for salvation are swarming to the two-street hamlet to collect a slice of Last Day history.

And it is an opportunity the village’s shrewd inhabitants are eager not to pass up.

Souvenirs include ‘authentic Bugarach stones’ from Pic de Bugarach’s rock-face itself, on sale for €1.50 (£1.20) a gram, and ‘natural pyramids of pyrite iron’ from underground.

Meanwhile, a bottle of water from the local spring, which can apparently cure a range of ailments, costs an eye-watering €15 (£12).

One landowner is even offering up his four-bedroom home with close up views of the mysterious peak for £1,200 a night.

But for those on a budget, he can offer camping space in his field (tent not included) for 400 euros a night.

‘I possess a rare asset, the land of immortality,’ he told La Depeche du Midi, the area’s local daily.

On the evening in question, tourists can pop to the local Italian restaurant for an ‘Apocalypse pizza’, washed down with a local vintner’s ‘End Of The World’ vintage.

If the predictions turn out to be wrong, they can celebrate with the same wine-seller’s ‘Survival Vintage’, on sale a day later.

But Bugarach’s mayor, Jean Pierre Delord, is worried about the numbers of New Agers arriving in the town.

Police and troops have been drafted in to deal with the sudden influx and stop believers from scaling the mountain. Although many believe this is merely a cover for the investigation of dozens of recent UFO sightings.

David, who quit his telecoms job in Tours to move to Bugarach, told The Sun: ‘There are serious things going on here – I want to know what these objects are.

‘Things exist and people have a right to know.’

While David, who would not reveal his surname, said he wasn’t sure the world would actually end in three weeks, added: ‘I do think the capitalist system is going to collapse then.’

But others have expressed anger at the town, blaming it for taking advantage of ‘gullible’ New Agers.

Eric Freysselinard, the prefect of the Aude county which includes Bugarach, said this week: ‘I find it really outrageous to abuse the naivety of people and rush into commerce that defies common sense.’

The prophesy is based on an interpretation of the ancient Mayan calendar which claims an intergalactic planet is on a crash course with Earth and will impact on December 21 2012.

The French government has even warned of the risk of mass suicides in the country by people who believe the world will self-destruct next year.

Recent disasters – including the earthquake in Japan – as well as anxiety over pandemics and economic concerns – are creating a global climate of fear, which for some are omens of impending doom.

A report published yesterday by watchdog Miviludes said the picturesque village near Carcassonne should be monitored in the lead-up to the end of 2012.

Miviludes president Georges Fenech said: ‘I think we need to be careful. We shouldn’t get paranoid, but when you see what happened at Waco in the United States, we know this kind of thinking can influence vulnerable people.’

The internet is awash with myths about the hamlet.

These include beliefs that the mountain is surrounded by a magnetic force, that it is the site of a concealed alien base, or even that it contains an underground access to another world.

Patrice Etienne, who runs an organic cafe in the village, said there have been an increased number of reports by walkers in the area of cameras jamming when they tried to take pictures and strange noises rumbling underground.

‘We have seen military aircraft, police and soldiers,’ he added. ‘It’s like a Spielberg movie. They are looking for something. There is something in this mountain, definitely.’

Meanwhile, panic is spreading throughout Russia at such a rate over the Earth’s pending doom, that Moscow’s minister of emergency situations has told its citizens that the world will not end on December 21.

Ancient Mayans claimed that is the day a 5,125-year cycle known as the Long Count in the Mayan calendar supposedly comes to a close. Many in Russia, where mystical thinking is popular, have taken notice.

Some are hoarding everyday items such as sugar, matches and candles, while inmates in a jail are said to have experienced a ‘collective mass psychosis’.

The ministry said it had access to ‘methods of monitoring what is occurring on Earth’, and could say with confidence all will be well.

However Russians were warned they still face the threats of ‘blizzards, ice storms, breakdowns in heat, electricity and water supply’.

An official from the Russian State Church has also spoken out to reassure frightened people.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2242176/Bugarach-Town-set-survive-Mayan-Apocalypse-cracks-open-End-World-wine.html?ICO=most_read_module