Chapter 1: Why Doomsday was doomed
This is a book about environmental crises, and the conclusions to which they point. It seems a good idea to emphasise, at the very outset, that it is not a treatise on Doomsday and how it must overshadow all our other petty concerns. The doomsday industry, so flourishing in the developed countries only a few years ago, seems to have peaked early and gone into fairly rapid decline. Once the television networks resounded with expert voices prophesying ecological disaster, and any new pathway to doom was guaranteed its quota of investigative reporting; now interest in the apocalypse has slackened off and the media have turned to other things.
This change in fashion is not wholly to be regretted. The most publicised version of doomsday, for instance, centred on the “population bomb”, which we were urged to fear above all else. The breathtaking arrogance of this analysis deserves some admiration; it was no petty task its disciples undertook, trying to persuade their readers that the main thing wrong with the world was the existence of those readers themselves. But it was only too evident that when an ecologist, a population theorist or an economist voiced his alarm at the plague of “too many people”, he was not really complaining that there existed too many ecologists, too many population theorists or too many economists: the surplus obviously consisted of less essential categories of the population. Thus, as a concept seeking to win the minds of the masses, population panic can now be seen as containing, from the very beginning, the seeds of its own decay. But there are more significant reasons why doomsday ideas in general failed to sink deep roots in the public consciousness.To read on, download the book as pdf »