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Apocalypse not now 

The world probably won’t come to an end next week, but that’s no reason to ignore the very real catastrophes heading our way.

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Harold Camping, president of the California-based Family Radio, says the Rapture will happen this Saturday, ushered in by a "worldwide earthquake" and leading to the complete destruction of the Earth on October 21.

But perhaps Sunday is instead the day of reckoning. As the Mississippi River flood peaks, it might overwhelm a flood control structure called the Old River Control Structure. If so, the river will jump out of its bed permanently, finding a new path to the Gulf of Mexico via what's now known as the Atchafalaya River; it's very likely the US, and possibly the world, would be thrown into a depression. Weather Underground's Jeff Masters explains this in detail, via thecoast.ca/MississippiRiver.

How do we assess these threats? While amusing, I think it's safe to say that Harold Camping's End Times prophecy can be ignored.

As for the Mississippi changing course, from what I read, I'm comfortable saying it probably won't happen Sunday. But the chance isn't zero percent---it's possible. More important, the chance that the Mississippi will eventually be rerouted down the Atchafalaya is 100 percent. It will happen one day; if not Sunday, then next year or in 10 years---within a few decades at best.

The best scenario is that the Old River Control Structure will be severely tested but hold, and the US government will subsequently embark on a program to help the river change course in an orderly, planned fashion--- leading to costly relocation of people and industry, and expensive new bridges and pipelines, but avoiding a crisis moment of failure.

Unfortunately, I doubt the US is up to the challenge. Probably, nothing will be done to prepare for the inevitable, the river's bed will rise ever higher, and one day catastrophe will strike.

Which brings me to other inevitabilities: climate change and expensive oil, both of which are all but ignored by the world's managerial classes, the people who actually run things---the academics, the CEOs, the bureaucrats, the war planners, even the supposed moralists in churches. This is nothing new; the managerial classes were meticulously castigated in John Ralston Saul's 1995 Voltaire's Bastards for their unbending faith in their own abilities, even in the face of repeated failure.

Here in Halifax, too, there's no sense of urgency among the managerial class. As far as City Hall or the provincial government goes, climate change and expensive oil are of no more concern than Harold Camping's Rapture prediction.

In recent years, about $150 million worth of new highway interchanges have been built in HRM alone, and about a half-billion dollars worth of new highways are proposed province-wide. Transit-unfriendly suburban sprawl continues to run wild---take a look at the new subdivisions flanking Larry Uteck Boulevard, as just one example. Like building ever-higher dikes along the Mississippi, constructing these new highways and subdivisions will only make the inevitable that much more catastrophic.

In his new book, The Death of the Liberal Class, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges shows how liberals, the same managerial classes John Ralston Saul described 16 years ago, have set aside all concern for morality and the common good in pursuit of their own narrow professional success. In doing so, they have not only refused to condemn the evils of perpetual warfare and the looting of public wealth through the recent financial collapse, but have actively facilitated the same.

It comes down to a belief among the liberal managerial class that they personally will fare best through the coming struggles if they align themselves with the truly powerful---the oil and armament companies, the financiers who just stole trillions of dollars, the politically powerful who have perverted democracy, the land-rapists and "developers" who extract wealth by devaluing everything good---and abandon common people and common decency. Sadly, even many young people have bought into the principle, putting themselves on a career track to service the powerful rather than resisting the powerful for the sake of what is right and good.

It would be comically ironic if it wasn't so terribly awful, but when the climate change and expensive oil calamities strike, these smug, brown-nosing courtesans will find themselves on the wrong side of the dike, drowning right along with the people they've abandoned.

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