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#TDB Commentary

IMAGINE, THE DAY WAR MET PEACE WITH TWO JOHN THE BAPTISTS ON MISSION TO SAVE THE WORLD

THE KILLING FIELDS: 1.2 million deaths from guns in the US since JOhn Lennon was murdered

THE KILLING FIELDS: 1.2 million deaths from guns in the US since John Lennon was murdered

THE doom-and-gloom merchants that have littered the centuries of our existence seem to be back with a vengeance this week.

Perhaps it’s the depressing nature of the approaching winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere but there’s almost an ‘end is nigh’ feel to the sentiments expressed in a study by Professor John Wiens.

The US evolutionary academic, who is editor of the Quarterly Review of Biology and a winner of the American Society of Naturalists’ Presidential Award, says we could be heading for the abyss – hinting at a sixth mass extinction of animal life in the Earth’s history in as little as 50 years.

His hunch comes after nearly half of 1,000 species studied over the last half century had suffered local extinctions linked to climate change with populations absent from areas where they had been found before.

He said the implications for the future were serious because his review showed plants and animals were struggling to deal with the relatively small amount of global warming experienced to date.

So far the world has warmed by about 1C above pre-industrial levels, but it is expected to hit between 2.6 and 4.8C by 2100 if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gases.

And there’s another thing that worries him – and he sees this as a potential stumbling block to life continuing on Earth.

He says having climate science denier Donald Trump as the next leader of the free world is a “global disaster” waiting to happen and, when asked what he would say to the US President-elect if he met him, he joked grimly: “Kill yourself immediately.”

Strangely Mr Wiens is not the only ‘prof’ in the world forecasting an Armageddon scenario in the same breath as mentioning Donald Trump’s name.

Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung, credited with predicting the fall of the Soviet Union, claims that US global power will suffer a phase of “accelerated decline” under the stewardship of Mr Trump — and will collapse while the property mogul is in the White House.

Prof Galtung originally predicted the 2025 collapse of the US in world domination terms back at the turn of the millennium. But under the Bush administration he revised his forecast to a quicker demise – by 2020.

Now he says that reality is set to materialise following the election of the opinionated billionaire businessman.

It’s not the first time Mr Galtung’s been right. Known as the “founding father” of peace studies as a scientific subject, he has correctly forecast numerous historical events of modern antiquity, among them the Tiananmen Square uprising in China and the September 11 terror attacks.

Perhaps it’s easy to see how predictions of global imploding can gather pace at a time when the people seem in revolt at the established order.

Enter a special date and two souls whose personae once strode this Earth like a giant colossus.

December 8 is the 342nd day of a non-leap year (the 343rd in 2016).

At the coalface of time, it appears to have little to recommend it.

A quick date-check through history throws up the premiere of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony in 1813, and 41 years later the Catholic Church –under its longest-reigning pontiff, Pope Pius IX – saw to it that he stamped his ‘infallibility’ notice on the Blessed Virgin Mary having conceived the baby Jesus free of original sin nearly two millennia earlier.

In 1941 it was the day the US declared war on Japan for its naked act of aggression in killing or wounding 3,500 servicemen and women in the surprise military strike on Pearl Harbour.

Fast forward to December 8, 2016 – and there is a poignancy surrounding the announcement of the passing of a man called John and the memories of an inexplicable murder of a similar-named evangelist 36 years earlier.

FIRST ORBITER: John Glenn

FIRST ORBITER: John Glenn

Yesterday US astronaut John Glenn, the first man to orbit Earth, headed for the heavens for the final time – when news arrived of his death in Columbus, Ohio aged 95.

His 1962 mission will always be remembered but he was also the oldest man to fly in space at age of 77 when he joined the crew of space shuttle Discovery.

Yesterday was also the 36th anniversary of another high flyer – musical god John Lennon.

The former Beatle was clinically murdered at 11pm on December 8, 1980 outside his Dakota apartment in Strawberry Fields, New York by stalker Mark Chapman. He fired five shots and four hit the defenceless Lennon.

In life, both men were like modern-day John The Baptists, on a mission to save the world in their own inimitable fashion.

The pair opened up new pathways to the stars, Glenn directly and Lennon through the genius of musical composition and song.

Today, Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, who still lives in the same apartment block with her memories, is determined to keep the ‘give peace a chance’ message burning ever brighter.

On the anniversary of his death, she posted a plea on her website Imagine Peace to end the bloodshed that is the daily part and parcel of US life – and death.

She told her ‘friends’ that 91 Americans are killed with guns EVERY day of the year, turning “this beautiful country into a war zone”.

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE: John Lennon and Yoko Ono

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE: John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Since Lennon’s death in 1980 some 1.2 million people have been killed by guns, she said.

She called for a return to the “green land of peace”.

Perhaps it is possible with two John The Baptists conjoined on their final journey from this life that December 8 could become the day that war met peace.

Imagine that.

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