Recently, a group of noted scientists convened by the United Nations sent out a warning that the world is approaching a point of no return, where it will be too late to enact changes that will stop a potentially catastrophic worldwide global warming process. 

Global warming, they say, will bring about the loss of glaciers and ice pack at the poles, major changes in sea life and weather patterns, more severe droughts and floods and fires, and perhaps a myriad of unforeseeable calamities that could threaten the existence of the entire human race. Food production and water access may become future flash-points for military hostilities in the not-too-distant future.

Looking at some references in the Bible, Jesus himself predicted the “end times” and that there will be “wars and rumors of wars,” and that “nations will rise against nations” and that there will “earthquakes, plagues and famines.”

Now of course, our human history is a long tale of wars, earthquakes, plagues and famines so these are not new – but these disasters may become significant telltale signs of the dark days that could be in our future, and as these signs become more extreme, the words of Jesus becomes more chillingly accurate.

I am a science fiction fan and I have always liked the 1950s movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” In the movie, Michael Rennie plays a rather handsome alien named Klaatu who comes to Earth in a giant, impervious flying saucer spaceship and brings along a giant robot called Gort.  Gort has the power to destroy the world and Klaatu gives an ultimatum that the nations of the world must shape up and set aside their destructive nuclear weapons arsenals and work together for world peace; otherwise Klaatu will unleash Gort to bring destruction to all of humankind. 

Klaatu (Michael Rennie) and Gort in a scene from “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951).

More recently in 2008, there was a remake of the movie, this time starring Keanu Reeves as the alien Klaatu who comes to Earth with the all-powerful Gort. Only this time, he and Gort have come to destroy humankind because they realize that mankind is killing the Earth. 

If I may paraphrase, Klaatu’s rationale was “If the Earth dies, mankind dies, but if mankind dies, the Earth lives.” It turns out, however, at the last minute before the total destruction of all humans, he listens to the plea of a scientist who begs Klaatu to allow humankind to “face the precipice because it is only at the precipice that mankind can change.” 

Many of the leading scientists are warning that we are approaching the precipice – the point of no return. Can this or the next generation do what will be necessary to stop disaster before it happens? Or will humankind be like lemmings, who come to the precipice and just keep on going to their destruction? Only time will tell but I hope humankind will face the precipice and work together to change what must be done.

The threat to our existence is not a powerful alien robot named Gort, but rather the sinister shortcomings of human nature – but perhaps, with the right kind of inspiring leadership, the shortcomings of human nature can be overcome by collective will to do the right things to save the future for humanity.


Bill Watanabe writes from Silver Lake near Downtown Los Angeles and can be reached at Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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