Monday, March 28, 2011

Apocalypse 2012: An Investigation into Civilisation's End

Book Review: Apocalypse 2012: An Investigation into Civilisation's End.
Lawrence E. Joseph.
Broadway Books, New York, 2007

I find this a perplexing text. So many new ideas from so many different sources. The author traveled around the world to interview scientists, psychics, Mayan ancestors, and various individuals ranging from shamans to mystics. It would take me far too long to investigate all the claims in this text. Other reviews on this text indicated a mixture of respect and caution in judging this text. There are errors, there must be errors, but there is enough solid material in this text to leave me interested.

The first two thirds of the text are an entertaining read. The author employs an easy reading style that doesn't become too technical and bogged down. Thankfully the text is not alarmist or written as if being some great document of revelation. He quotes the relevant individuals, he puts forward their ideas clearly and without editorialising their statements.

Regarding the sub-title: Civilisation's End, let me make clear the following important points.

This text draws on the date 21-12-2012, the data which Mayan Astronomy predicts a series of changing occurring not only on Earth but in the cosmos generally. Note it is Mayan Astronomy, not astrology, the Mayans were clearly outstanding astronomers.

This is not necessarily imply some looming cataclysm. It is about change. It could be catastrophic but neither the Mayans nor many of the other people the author interviewed are asserting a looming catastrophe.

The scientific arguments put forward in the book are not fringe ideas that have not been published in the relevant literature. These arguments have scientific merit but that is not to say these ideas are accepted by the mainstream. Note however that science is not a consensus exercise. As the brilliant mathematical biologist Haldane once stated:

1. this is worthless nonsense.
2. this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view;
3. This is true, but quite unimportant;
4. I always said so.

The Mayans were not alone in predicting big changes occurring in 2012.

This text does put forward a range of issues suggesting change is already happening. It is not just about global warming, there is also an increase in earthquakes of late. The sun has been been unusually energetic. There are a series of major changes occurring in the climate. There is also evidence of increased energy in some planets in the solar system. The magnetosphere, the magnetic field that surrounds the earth and is necessary for life, is changing. This has happened before, there has long been evidence of a complete pole reversal. It might be again happening.

I cannot say whether or not something is going on. I will say though that this text, in the very least, gave me pause for thought. I am not a person generally persuaded by many of the themes present in this text. If not for the buttressing of his arguments with statements from a wide variety of scientists I'd probably be much less inclined to recommend this text. For example, while I am wary of outright asserting a belief in psychic powers, I am also not prepared to dismiss the same out of hand. I do not consider belief in psychic powers to be "unscientific" because I do not believe in a "scientific world view", or any world view for that for that matter. Philosophy and religion are for those too lazy to deal with the evidence. Sadly the same pathology permeates many who call themselves scientists and rationalists. I hate rationalism, it is subjective piffle.

As tempted as I am to further investigate the many interesting ideas in this text, with specific regard to 21-12-2012 there is no point. If the change is coming there is nothing we can do about it. If the solar system has entered a stellar energy cloud that is disrupting the planets and the sun there is nothing we can do about it. We don't even know the implications of such an event. If the magnetosphere is undergoing another large shift there is nothing we can do about it. The same is true of global warming. If the models are correct, and that is a very big IF, it is far too late to prevent global warming occurring. To seriously address anthropogenic global warming is politically impossible. We would have to transform our lives. We would have to remove every petrol powered vehicle yesterday, we would have to shut down every coal fired power plant within a year, we would have to radically transform not only our way of life but our whole economy. Approximately 15 years ago I gave up on environmental causes because even way back then I realised that the change will never happen in time. As Jared Diamond so powerfully illustrated in his great book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, human civilisations have perished because civilisations refused to undergo the fundamental changes to ensure their ongoing vitality. As Braudel notes:

29: "A civilisation generally refuses to accept a cultural innovation that calls in question one of its own structural elements. Such refusals or unspoken enmities are relatively rare: but they always point to the heart of a civilisation."

A History of Civilisations.

It isn't going to happen. All is not lost. As some Mayan ancestors assert, it is not so much that a looming catastrophe is emerging but rather a looming revolution in humanity's understanding of its place in the world and cosmos. So 21-12-2012 may represent a watershed in human consciousness, a time when we finally realise that we exist in the world, not above it or apart from it, but that our whole existence is intertwined with the earth and cosmos in ways we have barely begun to comprehend. Bring it on!


Adrien said...

I looked up this book on the State Library's website and got Sidney Blumenthal's How Bush Rules. No shit. :)

How did the Mayans predict this event?

Being raised on Nostradamus, Dr Strangelove and Ronald Reagan prepares you for Apocalypse.

Adrien said...

Ca'rn John, where's the Mayan science. I had a look for this last night. Couldn't find it. Instead I found some gobbledegook that had the usual pseudo-scientific palava in it.

John said...

John said...

Adrien, here's a tip. When looking for some information, go into Google advanced search, limit search to Sites with .edu extension.