John Seven: We all survived Ragnarok 2014!


Saturday was the projected arrival of Ragnarok, a day that Vikings predicted all their gods would fall and our world would become engulfed in water. Eventually, the world would be reborn, with two humans surviving to repopulate the world, which makes it all sound like a prequel to the Old Testament, really.

Of course, the world didn't end on Saturday. Odin didn't fall, if he ever existed at all. No one ate the sun or the moon. No gods took to the battlefield. We are still faced with all the bad things we were faced with on Friday, situations in which Ukrainians took to fighting instead of Viking gods, and Comcast threatened to eat the Internet instead of celestial bodies. Russia, Uganda and Arizona all still seemed determined to help along some kind of new Holocaust.

Ancient end-of-the-world predictions are so appealing in newsrooms because it's doom and gloom we can scoff and snicker at, feel a little superior about. It's destruction we can have a good laugh about. It's one of the surefire things that unites most of us as modern skeptics.

I also think some of us like to fantasize a little bit. Ragnarok comes and no more political monsters can oppress ordinary people. No more hate and violence based on some element of a person's being that rubs us the wrong way. No more shallow nonsense like Miley Cyrus taking up brain space when we need to deal with those other two woes. These things seem so unsolvable, it seems helpful to watch the Midgard serpent show its slithery self to the world and then have the whole thing explode like a Hollywood film.

And as long as the two post-Ragnarok survivors aren't Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, I'm good with the whole scenario, because it's actually better than the one that's really unfolding.

That's the joke. The world is ending, just at a much slower pace than the Vikings would have it, and neither Woody nor Mia will survive in the long run. It's called climate change, aided and abetted by our own arrogance over the earth. Unfortunately, that doesn't have the bonus spectacle of magical Viking gods battling it out and dying in a heap -- or, for that matter, four horseman, Gog-Magog, no 200 million demon-possessed soldiers crossing the Euphrates, as some end-time Christians have it.

With climate change, the earth just limps into a corner like a sick cat and waits for its final moments. And who wants to live through that?

The signs of the slow burn keep coming. The polar vortex is just arctic warming plus jet stream pulling warm air north equals horrible winters during climate change. Why does the end of the world need to be so complicated, right? And boring.

Better to go out in a blaze of Norse glory.

Don't worry, there's a little bit of excitement ahead that's not so hard to understand. Scientists are predicting the earth is headed to a sixth great extinction on the planet. Talk about drawn out gloom. The International Union for Conservation of Nature reports that 18,788 species out of 52,017 are careening toward extinction, unfortunately none of them humankind, just bats, bees, starfish, vultures, monarch butterflies, frogs, you name it. Lemurs!

Sadly, not one of those 18,788 species seems to be humankind -- to which I add, yet.

We plan on being the last animal standing, I think. And when that happens, we'll probably still be laughing at the entire notion of silly old Ragnarok and wasting our resources on those dumb Thor movies while everything continues to crumble around us. And we won't even have lemurs to amuse us anymore.

John Seven, a writer, lives in North Adams. He can be reached at or at


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