Gene Logsdon: Look Out, The World Is About To End Again…



Last summer I started to fall for the old Doomsday Disaster Doldrums again. It didn’t rain from the middle of May to September. Crops didn’t grow and pasture dried up. I was once more painfully reminded of how close we live to the brink of disaster at all times. The food cliff, if not the fiscal cliff, lurks just one misstep away, or so it seems. Of course the rains did come in September and more in October and now going into December, the pastures are lush and I don’t think I will have to feed hay until January. The latest weather roundup says rainfall in Ohio for the year is about normal. Ho hum.

I never learn. I got a good case of the DDDs in 1988 when it did not rain one drop here from April 11 until July 17. And I can remember my parents and grandparents in the 1930s despairing when it seemed that every other year the weather was taking us to the end of the world. And they didn’t have global warming to blame.

But it was back in the 1880s when the worst (so far) weather came our way. Our Sandusky River, here in northern Ohio, got a crust of ice on it in July, so the old papers say. A huge volcano had erupted in Indonesia in 1883 (Krakotoa) and it sent enough ash and debris into the atmosphere to shade the sun for several years even as far away as Ohio. But not many people here knew that and probably would not have believed it anyway. From every pulpit came the old DDD refrain: the end is nigh.

Can you imagine what would happen in today’s state of chronic paranoia if rivers started to freeze over in July? The great debate would be about a new ice age coming and we would be told that we must burn more coal, oil, and gas to encourage global warming.

There actually was a spurt of worry over global cooling back in the late 1980s. Can’t remember the exact year but I wrote an article in Organic Gardening magazine making fun of it. Then of course in 2000 all was going to be lost again, only computers, not the weather, was the supposed culprit. Now, another replay. All will end next week on Dec. 21. Says so according to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, whatever that is.

This latest example of how nutty humans are is a little more sophisticated. The world is not going to end this time, I am told, but only that part of human society that has been guilty of environmental destruction. Those few who have not taken part in the wanton money greed and the rampant disregard of natural life, who have stayed out on the ramparts trying to find a way to live that will sustain the earth indefinitely, will be spared. Given the state of the earth right now, it is tempting to believe that kind of doomsday— especially if I am one of those chosen to survive.

It is easy enough to make fun of perpetrators of doomsday but is not the whole debate over climate change possibly another example, although disguised in supposedly more intellectual scientific language? No doubt the earth is presently getting warmer and no doubt we should quit burning so much fossil fuel. But much of the argument sounds unduly alarmist to me. All the numbers I’ve been able to corral in one pen seem to agree that in the last 20 years, the oceans have risen one-half inch. At that rate I have full faith in conniving human nature. We will find a way to adjust. Until then, as one who hates cold weather and loves green pastures, I stand among my sheep grazing in December and mutter quietly so that only the sheep can hear: if this be global warming, I’ve got worse things to worry about.


Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see…


That denial is always painless
It brings on unmeant changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make
all our little joys relate
without that ever-present hate
but now I know that it’s too late, and…


The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.


The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I’m beat
and to another give my seat
for that’s the only painless feat.

Parody of Suicde is Painless lyric

In our duty to protect Mother Earth need we be harsh? Sarcastic, playful perhaps, and if confronted harshly, symmetrically, but otherwise gentle does it I think would be Mother’s advice.


Gene often displays spirts of remark ignorance not untypical of old farmers I once spent so much time with. Hands on experience and gut feel rule. It’s good to have him here, on the other hand, because it seems likely he is everyman, the precise reason we’re fiddling as the world burns, scarce resources are being exhausted, and the environment gutted. He apparently simply has no basis that he can understand or appreciate to behave otherwise, thanks to our school system and “popular” media. How might we reach him and others of his ilk, beginning with those scattered everywhere through our governments and corporations?

Been bothered by this all afternoon, even had a dream. My poor demented father was fond of saying “Think long and think wrong.” He thought wrong both ways so that worked well for him, but there is wisdom in consulting the gut. Well, not my gut right now which has it in for me, but what we mean by intuition. Logic is, as the AA’s say, “A good way to go wrong with confidence.” Now I am all about being a scientist and empiricism and so forth, but there is more in our world than is accounted for by the formulas and charts. Whenever I feel myself slipping off the beach ball in the direction of materialism I remember the scientific fact that there is no explanation for why such and inordinate number of people accidentally miss flights that subsequently crash. Essentially, I find that I am more than willing to buddy up with the gut people. Besides, someone has to hold the other end of the rope and I would it rather not be me. In an intensely social species like ours with such novelty in adaptation the only conceivable gene pool that is to survive is the one that manages to maintain the greatest range of perceptual styles in its members. Live and let live is a force magnifier for a group under selective pressure. This is the argument I am having a hard time taking away from my current book The Wisdom of Psychopaths. But I have no problem with seeing every other bias and personality style has something to throw into the group survival pot, even if they are annoying at times, and I want to hear from them UNDER DIGNIFIED CIRCUMSTANCES (no shock jock opinion trolls please). The big problem in getting folks with different frames of reference to talk seems to be learning to take turns. Where are the kindergarten teachers who need to lead our public meetings?

Salvation is in the big tent where everyone is welcome, where folks agree on the rules, and everyone enjoys the game in their own way. Libertarians are just closet anarchist after all. The voice that is missing is the voice that is needed. We only have problems when voices are excluded.

Today Gene’s piece has grown on me a bit.


Herb, I’m as anarchist as you’re likely to find and have libertarian friends, so I’m with you there. Gene reminds me of my dad and granddads and their neighbors, dirt farmers and good people all. They were, however, remarkably ignorant of the ways of the world and their gut thinking often failed them. I think of those dirt farmers in the Midwest and Central Plains who vote far right en masse. Live and let live is fine, if Wall Street, the corporations, and their political hacks would do the same. The evidence that the climate is warming is stupendous, but you’d never know this if you didn’t take the time to explore and think about the evidence. You surely wouldn’t know it if you were only watching our local weather either. Climate change deniers such as Gene and many like him are simply echoing those who are willing to burn up the world for their immediate profit, which is not let live.

    Don, I’m afraid I don’t measure up to your good ole boy farmer image although I wish I did. I have a BA in philosophy after a double major, the other in history. I have an MA in Ameircan cultural history. I have finished all the work for a PhD in American studies including the language requirements and a dissertation. I am not a climate change denier. Gene

I get more of a climate change ignorer than denier, but well said Don. So many people are wounded by ignorance, all of us really, because of the welter of lies we have grown up in. Lies, unknowingly absorbed, are a poison to the soul. There is a story that comes from R. D. Laing’s writing that claims that a polynesian custom for dealing with the insane was to have the entire extended family come down to the beach and start telling their secrets and lies. If the person did not return to sanity, someone was holding out and no one got to go home until it all came out and the person was returned to sanity. That sounds about right, except we have a whole frigging society driven mad by lies.


Why the World Doesn’t End ~ Tales of Renewal in Times of Loss by Michael Meade