My modern revision of Dante's Inferno was well received, so this is an appropriate time of the year, with the birth of Christ hard upon us- to revisit the subject of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Being familiar with the Bible, but by no means a scholar, there is a certain dark humor to the concept of the Four Horsemen, and I do at times like to refer to them, perhaps as much because they are a somewhat humorous take on a terrible subject > one has to be able to laugh at one's own misfortune, while at the same time taking it seriously. The laughter ensures the maintenance of sanity.
So the original Horsemen are: Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death. They were generated at a time when the risk to endangering all life on earth did not exist as a concern. Perhaps up to 1945 the 4 Horsemen reflected a purely homo sapiens view of what survival means, only concerned about us surviving - everything else has to take care of themselves.
There may be many out there that may think that I will rename two of the horsemen: Medical Radiation and Gadolinium.
But lo! I mean no!
The existence of humanity depends essentially on the existence of a livable planet. So the re-interpretation certainly weighs to humanity's benefit still, but largely in the concept of preserving the planet, the plants and creatures.
Stephen Hawking said it simply: We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity.
But that is only 2 horsemen> Here are the new 4:
1. too many humans: the Horseman of Overpopulation.
2. too much pollution: the Horseman of Pollution.
3. weapons of mass destruction> chemical, biological, combustable: the Horseman of War
4. disease epidemics (animals and humans): the Horseman of Pestilence
How to tackle these horsemen ofcourse has been written extensively about and would take several books to do it justice. But here is just a short assessment for each for now.
1. the only humane method is birth control. All aid to all developing nations must begin with education, and education about this is tantamount. One of the most effective means of birth control is the empowerment of women: equal access to good, science-based education, and direct financial support for business ventures. In developed nations the declining birth rate of the native citizen population, noteworthy ofcourse is Italy, the home of the papacy, is likely largely a reflection of the empowerment of women. Declining population is a good thing, one just has to reformulate social security.
2. Horsemen 1 and 2 really combined form a chariot of global warming. All aid to all developing nations must start with managing pollution. The first companies to go into developing nations must no longer be Exxon, Halliburton, and Lockheed Martin, but instead Waste Management. Obviously all plastics have to be replaced by biodegradable plastics and alternatives like cellulose. One simple golden rule: Don't throw garbage on the ground or in the water systems.
3. This solution is also at present quite Utopian: all rulers should be women. Interestingly Iceland has made steps towards this. Perhaps the electorate itself should only be composed of college educated women, of all races. The original democracies in Athens and the the US considered that only 'individuals with wisdom' should be allowed to vote: they decided it should be wealthy white men. We are in an age that survival of humanity is now a central issue, not survival of just one country. It seems that only women as a whole have an understand about the importance of getting along, compromise, and acting in such a fashion to preserve the planet for future generations, and not simply short-sighted economic interest.
4. The solution to pestilence is that science matters. We have to return to an understanding that science matters, and not the hunches or gut instincts of individuals with no real knowledge, but only the belief that they are right. Extreme conviction usually arises from extreme ignorance, unburdened by the introspection that comes from wisdom.... Actually into this point I could tie in medical radiation and gadolinium - for those who think I have ignored them.
Richard Semelka MD Consulting
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