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Doomsday alert: get out the bike, save your books


Are you prepared for Doomsday?

After all the Christmas preparation done in our house recently, if civilization as we know it ended on Friday (as some fear it will), I figure we’ve got enough food and drink banked that we could climb out of the wreckage next spring somewhat overweight — probably with a hangover.

Sadly though, we will have missed a long-standing family Christmas tradition of going as a group to see the latest Tolkien movie. Good thing we kept the books.

Personally, I’m somewhat disappointed with the lack of hysteria whipped up for this latest version of the end of all things. I blame the media. Definitely not keeping the pace.

I kind of enjoyed the madness around Y2K, not least because it provided employment for a family member, who got a lot of programming work for companies worried that they might not be able to bill customers in the new millennium. But also because “obsolete” computers became really cheap. It was such a good deal, I’ve been working on obsolete equipment ever since.

In preparation for what might become my final column, I searched online for a complete tally of end-of-the-world predictions.

The list proved so long as defy mockery. I mean, what could the ancient Mayans know that the early Romans, Isaac Newton and many others, clear up to the Bible Study Movement, several (still operating) Christian churches, multimillionaire evangelical preachers, Charles Manson, and the Amazing Criswell did not know?

The Large Hadron Collider did not turn Earth into a singularity, so even humanity’s hubris in tinkering with the laws of physics failed us here. But there’s still a statistical chance that an asteroid is out there, with your name on it.

History strongly indicates that people in general just need something to fear. Something big. Something far outside of our puny powers to control.

So what could we fear in Red Deer?

Well, the Dickson Dam could suddenly and catastrophically fail, sending a lake’s worth of water rushing downstream, backing up severely at the narrow Canyon area, and flooding the city. I happen to live on the floodplain, and benefit from the centuries of intermittent flooding that have built my garden topsoil to a fertile depth beyond three metres. It could happen again, I guess.

But that’s too unlikely. We need something more plausible.

I know: a cabal of extreme conservatives will take over city council at the next municipal election, and cancel all capital projects that involve debt for 14 years. This has happened here before.

Infrastructure will slowly decay as frozen tax rates do not allow for adequate upkeep, much less growth in the next boom cycle. The streets will be in gridlock, unable to handle the rise in population.

And me, on my obsolete bike, will be smiling.

Greg Neiman is a former Advocate editor.

 
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