March 11, 2012 in City

Clark: Thanks, fellas. Nothing like a good doomsday read

By The Spokesman-Review
 

According to that fabled Mayan calendar, 2012 is the year when Planet Earth finally makes like Pamela Anderson’s acting career.

But don’t worry. We have until December before the you-know-what hits the fan.

In the meantime, my advice is to go to Amazon.com and pre-order your copy of an exciting new book:

“Megacatastrophes! Nine Strange Ways the World Could End.” ($10.20, Oneworld Publications)

From giant descending space chunks to malevolent microbes, the book – scheduled for release next month – offers an informed peek at the most plausible/possible cataclysms that would definitely screw up the ol’ holiday shopping season.

Even better, “Megacatastrophes!” is co-authored by Dirk Schulze-Makuch, an astrobiologist with Washington State University’s School of the Environment. The other writing credit goes to British astronomer and noted science writer David Darling.

I’m definitely getting a copy. All these years watching the Spokane City Council crash and burn has made me something of an expert on doomsday scenarios.

Plus, early book reviews are solid.

“Who needs vampires and zombies for excitement?” writes Albert A. Harrison, a professor at the University of California, Davis.

“Delightful … an authoritative but good-humored look at an array of natural and technological disasters.”

I called Schulze-Makuch on Friday and luckily caught him during a free moment. Chronicling the most likely humanity-enders, he said, was fascinating fun.

But all that Mayan stuff?

Utter hokum, he said.

I agree. Why should anyone put stock in a defunct civilization that is best known for playing kick the can with decapitated noggins?

Schulze-Makuch said he and Darling decided to approach the subject from a “scientific perspective” and ask:

“What are the real dangers to humankind?”

Will The End come from a super volcano spewing a gazillion tons of noxious crud into the air?

Or will our worst fears come from the enemy within?

Consider this excerpt:

“The biggest threat to life on Earth comes, oddly enough, from the only creatures who spent a lot of time worrying about their well-being and also think of themselves as being the most intelligent species in town.”

Speaking of flesh-eating germs, I asked Schulze-Makuch if he uses those sanitary shopping cart handle wipes that are provided by most grocery stores.

That’s a negative, said the scientist.

“I actually don’t think it makes much sense.” Using the wipes, he believes, might actually make us more susceptible to infectious invasions.

“We have to train our immune system to overcome things,” he said.

Hostile space visitors, rampaging nanobots, globe-covering pandemics …

These brainiacs came up with some pretty scary pathways to oblivion.

Leaving Snooki’s pregnancy off their list does seem like a major oversight. It isn’t so far-fetched to believe that the New Jersey pop tart might give birth to the Antichrist.

Talking to Schulze-Makuch has me thinking of writing a doomsday book for the region:

“Seven Signs of the Coming Spopacalypse.”

My goal will be to warn area residents that The End is nigh when …

• The fabled North/South Freeway is completed.

• Hudson’s Hamburgers puts french fries on the menu.

• Karl Thompson Jr. finally heads off to the hoosegow.

• The White Elephant sells its last piece of Expo ’74 memorabilia.

• Spokane’s mayor wins a second term.

• The Crescent department store reopens for business.

And the final telltale sign that the Spokane area is hosed?

• Those two clods on the Spokane County Commission finally admit they blew it by buying that stupid racetrack.

These things coming to pass will tell us that it’s time to do the unthinkable.

Dig a hole and crawl into it?

Even worse – move to Tacoma.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman- Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or dougc@spokesman.com.


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