Mayan doomsday a cliff away


It’s all to hit us at once: the fiscal cliff and the Mayan doomsday. What else could they throw at us — Donald Trump showing up at the party as Santa Claus?

One in 10 people actually believes that the world will come to an end on Dec. 21, as the Mayans, they say, predicted. The only thing is, the Mayans didn’t. As for the so-called fiscal cliff, it doesn’t happen until the end of the year when the Bush tax cuts expire and monster budget cuts automatically kick in. It was legislators themselves who set out these markers, so let them get off their duffs and manage the bluff.

As far back as 12,000 years ago, North American natives had a cliff event, called a buffalo jump, in which they drove herds of plains bison over a cliff as part of their hunt. Blackfeet Indians called the jumps “pishkun,” which they staged as late as 1500 A.D. So our cliff is nothing new — just a different brand of pitiable pishkun.

As for the Mayan prophecy, the December date is just the beginning of a new time cycle — not what we later concocted — to fill out our fantasies. What the Mayans do believe is there will be big changes on the personal, family and community level, so that there is harmony and balance between mankind and nature. They are optimistic.

The “fiscal cliff” is said to be a myth, concocted by Republicans to pressure Democrats to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and accept painful cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They invented the cliff — now they can un-invent it.

If we want to believe in a doomsday cliff, global warming would be a better candidate. Although the United States has refused to sign on to even the weakest of climate change conventions, human activity has been shown to cause the melting of the Arctic ice, the collapse of fish stocks and rapid rates of extinction within all classes of life forms. That’s all from “human activity.” Who says we humans are lazy?

Two years ago, the Pentagon stated that changes in the global climate are increasing the frequency and the intensity of radical weather events, and that the effects may destabilize governments; spark mass migrations, famine and pandemics; and prompt military conflict in many areas of the world. In fact, short of drastic and rapid action, life forms, including our own, are in peril of extinction. Maybe cliff is the right word after all — that’s if we’re even around in time to fall off of it.

Also rivaling the fiscal one as the moment’s steepest cliff is the high-tech, covert version of war that’s taken hold over the past decade, fought by robots, tens of thousands of elite, special operation troops and warrior corporations. We have some 7,000 drones conducting hundreds of air strikes and causing thousands of casualties. Names of victims are assigned arbitrarily, without any judicial oversight, largely beyond international law. With robots fighting our wars, soon we humans won’t have to think about all the horror and havoc we’re causing. We’ll be off the cliff but not even miffed.

Recently, the U.S. secretly conducted the first cyberwar in history against Iran, raising the possibility of this new weapon of mass destruction being turned against our own nation. Instead of terrorists launching planes at two symbolic buildings, cyber criminals, terrorists or foreign states could launch viruses into major financial networks and then target the nation’s power grids, electricity, public transportation and water supply. People would roam the streets, foraging for food, and life as we know it is gone.

The Mayan prophecy was innocent enough, and the financial cliff seems unlikely. Rather, it’s climate and war that are rushing us straight to the pishkun plunge, with every sign that it’s going to occur. We don’t seem to care. Our children had best get ready.