By Bianca Silva
The world is ending!” These famous words have been repeated by many, from the average person on the street to the educated experts who express concerns about the future in a less direct way. Still, it’s comforting that the world hasn’t been taken over by cockroaches just yet. I remember my mother telling me stories of people standing on street corners convinced it was their duty to alert passers by to their impending doom, which would be scheduled just before breakfast the following day. She also told me these people have been dismissed as crazy since there were still people able to wake up the next day to a world that did not resemble Swiss cheese. Strangely, there seems to be a little bit of doomsday in all of us, whether we are worried about the world coming to an end or whether we simply lose our trust in the world around us. Nostradamus’s predictions have been re-interpreted so many times that the old man may be equated with horoscopes – at best, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Today, doomsday is far more serious. We have believable scenarios. A recession in the American economy will contribute to increased inflation in poorer countries, signalling the end of the world for many people who struggle to eat one meal a day. It took a two degree drop in the global temperature to cause the Ice Age; experts are expecting a six degree rise in temperature will accompany global warming. This alone makes our expectations of the world turning into Swiss cheese sound almost optimistic and, let’s not forget, the threat of nuclear warfare in a showdown of which childish nation has the biggest toys.
The opening of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway, more commonly know as the Doomsday Vault, is a hot topic for conversation. The vault stores 268 000 seed samples, which contains more than a hundred million individual seeds, in an attempt to represent the agriculture of 220 different countries. The vault is 130 metres underground and is covered by an ice mountain for protection, which is still anything but comforting. People are reacting to the times whether that means debating adopting the “Afrorand”, recycling waste or building giant doomsday vaults.
In South Africa concerns about our electricity, inflation, water and the ever-entertaining political stage has made a number of people flee the country. Watching all this I find it hard not to agree with Branko Brkic, editor of Maverick magazine, who said it’s sad to watch people give up on the country they grew up in and leaving will most certainly not solve our problems in any way. Perhaps people who leave have the ostrich mentality, the same logic that makes people in Johannesburg build higher walls or add another electric fence, hide your head and the problem shall disappear.
Sadly it won’t. On campus you cannot hide from incidences of rape or sexual assault. As much as I wish it would, gathering in short skirts, re-affirming your right to be your own private property may not penetrate the minds of those who need it the most. At least it shows that not everyone has given up. Here is to hoping the Doomsday Vault will simply be the next crazy person who says the world will be Swiss cheese by tomorrow morning.