PREVIOUS THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY|
August 21st to August 25th
MONDAY AUGUST 21
The end of the world?
Towards the end of the last century, many people were expecting the world to end. A bunch of scary old prophets had convinced them that it would all be over by 1997 or 1999. After we survived those dates, they turned their attention to May 2,000. This, they promised, would definitely finish us all off. When this also passed without incident, I felt like jumping for joy. "Now," I thought, "The pessimists really will have to shut up." It would seem though, that hope is not the only thing that springs eternal. In 2012 the ancient Mayan calendar is due to run out. The gloom mongers are delighted. But they're wrong once more... as I shall explain later this week.
TUESDAY AUGUST 22
There are some who argue that a dreadful disaster is about to take place. We have built too many machines and used up too many of the earth's resources. Now the earth is warming up and the ice caps, at the poles, are melting. Soon, they say, there will be terrible floods and we will all be Noahs. I don't dispute that there IS a problem and that something urgently needs to be done. But I recall how the space race, in the sixties, brought amazing, constructive change. I foresee another race in the next few years. An "Earth Race". This race, to recognise and rectify the damage that we have accidentally done to our own planet, may be intense... but we can yet win it.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 23
The Mayan calendar
At the North Pole, there is now a swimming pool where there once was an ice rink. The polar bears may be pleased about this - but the rest of us should be worried. If the world keeps warming up, the oceans will rise. Unless we all want to start moving to the mountain tops, we had better see what we can do to fix things. That's not going to happen unless millions of people accept the danger and change their lifstyles. As a race, we generate an awful lot of pollution. We think only about our short term needs. We don't much care about what we can't see... or about the long term implications of our actions. According to the ancient Mayan calendar, we have about another 12 years to wake up and wise up.
THURSDAY AUGUST 24
The Mayan calendar runs out...
Should we be concerned because the ancient Mayan calendar 'runs out' in 2012? Yes and no. Experts in the history of this culture say that it merely suggests the start of a new era. But as we look around at the world, we see many reasons to feel concerned about the future. Like children, set loose in some enormous playpen, we help ourselves to the resources that we find on this earth, without giving much thought to their preservation. We worship the god of money, regardless of what sacrifices it asks us to make. Our planet has a future... but there are futures and futures. If we want a future that's truly worth having, we will all need to become a bit more generous and conscientious.
FRIDAY AUGUST 25
Spotting Jupiter and Saturn
People often assume that I spend my nights in an observatory, gazing at stars. Mainly though, I work indoors with charts and timetables. These give me a model of the whole solar system, not just the bit above my head. They let me plot the angles being formed between planets, even if they cannot be seen. Most crucially, they show me the future picture, not just the current one. There is though, much joy to be had from watching the celestial soap opera as it actually unfolds. This weekend, if the sky is clear, look to the right of the moon when it comes up. Up and over just a touch, you should spot first Jupiter, then Saturn. Even through a small telescope, you can catch Jupiter's moons and Saturn's ring.
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