The world is becoming increasingly crowded – its human population looks set to smash through the seven billion barrier in the next few days, according to the United Nations.
This will be just 12 years since the total reached six billion.
Should we be worried?
Yep – on two fronts.
First, experts say the pace of growth – which has seen the number of people on the planet triple since 1940 – poses an increasing danger to citizens.
With more people to feed, house and provide medical care for, the experts they say the world’s resources look set to come under more strain than ever before.
But we should worry, too, that this will never happen because – bugger me – the end of the world is nigh again.
Alf refers to the latest prediction of Doomsday preacher Harold Camping, who – you will recall – was left a laughing stock when his prediction that the world would end on May 21 failed to materialise.
the 90-year-old Californian may well have the last laugh after revealing that date was in fact Judgment Day – a spiritual moment when the righteous would be chosen – and simply a warm-up for the Rapture which happens exactly five months later.
This means that Friday, October 21, will mark the start of the Apocalypse – when believers will be whisked away into heaven and hell will be unleashed on earth.
Alf is among the cynics on this one.
This Camping bloke seems the sort of deluded tosser who could consult his Bible and find passages that suggest Hone Harawira will be our next Prime Minister (if it weren’t for the fact the world will have ended before the election is held).
But the Daily Mail warns the cynics that the Rapture Index – a monitor of current affairs for the frequency and intensity of end-time signs mentioned in the Bible – is at an almost all-time high.
In August the table – which measures 45 categories including levels of drugs abuse, anti-Semitism and wild weather – hit an unprecedented 184.
Controversial: Is Harold Camping a figure of fun or a true prophet of modern times?
It now currently stands slightly lower at 180 – only two points below the 182 it reached in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist atrocities.
Unrest in the Middle East, the global economic crisis, the famine in the Horn of Africa and the slowing down of recent volcanic activity are all signs that the world is about to end, it claims.
The index was created in December 1993 by a bloke called Terry James, from, Little Rock, Arkansas, who said he did not use it to make predictions, but to measure ‘the type of activity that could act as a precursor to the Rapture’.
He said: ‘The higher the number, the faster we’re moving towards the end.’ And he revealed that any figure over 160 made it time to ‘fasten the seatbelts’.
Bed-ridden Camping, who suffered a stroke soon after ‘Judgment Day’, has declared his certainty the whole world will be annihilated on 21 October. ‘
Because the day of judgment has already passed, he reckons, there is nothing the non-righteous can do to save their souls.
Therefore, he added, there was no point in advertising it to the extent of his May prediction – which saw his radio station sponsoring a worldwide publicity blitz.
If he’s right, we can forget about the burgeoning population thing and discount the official estimates that the figure will top eight billion in 2025 and 10 billion before the end of the century.
This obviously will mean less land and water available for each person.
Poorer people, who tend to depend more on natural resources, will bear the brunt as they will not be able to compete with the rich.
The major issues will be how to feed the new arrivals, which will see the need for new varieties of improved crops.
Dunno which is the more unnerving.
The prospect of coping with the effects of a population squeeze.
Or the prospect of meeting our Maker next Friday and being told you won’t be allowed into Heaven.