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The End of the World As We Know It

In May of 1979, the men of Harriet Beecher Stowe Hall at the University of Connecticut threw a party. They called it: "The End of The World Party." That same week the #10 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List was The Third World War: August 1985, a story about a conflict that would destroy most of the planet. The apocalypse for the men of Stowe Hall was that the dorm would become co-ed the following year: no more male-only dorms at UConn. For Sir John Winthrop Hackett, the "inevitable" engagement of the US and USSR in a battle of superpowers and their proxies would bring Armageddon.

In that same week, "the end of our way of life" meant everything from tamer college parties to the collapse of the world order.

Doomsday prophets have always been with us, usually dismissed as alarmists or crackpots. Hackett's novel was an exercise, a game played out by senior military commanders. The book sold a lot of copies, but its theories did not get much serious attention in the mainstream media.

What to make, then, of a NASA-financed study that predicted the end of our current epoch? “The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent," wrote Safa Motesharri, an applied mathematician who authored the study's final paper in 2014.

Motesharri found that all societal collapses over the past 5,000 years were preceded by the stresses of diminishing resources and hoarding by the elite. Eventually, in every culture, the elite overplay their hand, grabbing resources to the exclusion of the great majority, until the commoners revolt, and the civilization falls. The parallels to the situation in our country are not hard to see, particularly if one views health care as a resource.

With Congress and the Trump administration poised to make health care available only to the elite, perhaps our days as a nation, much less a superpower, are coming to an end.

I remember those naive days when unthinkable collapse meant a time of fewer keg stands or generals playing Risk, and those days seem so far away. Witness the rise of post-apocalyptic fiction and the popularity of National Geographic's "Doomsday Preppers."

As for me, I'm investing in long-shelf-life food.


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