essays and articles by david g allen

It’s The End Of The World, And I Can’t Sleep


A few days ago, I dozed off while watching television. I woke to a widescreen scene of parched ground, which reminded me of droughts and locust plagues in Ethiopia. As for the sound, an ominous narrator was ranting about some major crisis at hand.

I was sure that I had woken to the “700 Club” and that the ominous narrator was none other than Pat Robertson.

Was I ever wrong. I was watching “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore’s Oscar-winning (and whining) film about the end of the world as we know it.

All of my life, I have been told that the world is coming to an end post haste.

As a kid, I saw Godzilla, the product of atomic radiation, foretelling our ruination. Not to be outdone, Hollywood mutated every conceivable insect and animal to sell the radiated mutant story. James Arness actually polished his marksmanship fighting giant ants in “Them!” before he got the job of taming Dodge City.

My neighborhood grade school boasted that its basement was a suitable bomb shelter for over 100 people. That seemed adequate until the Cuban missile crisis started. Then, every family began stockpiling food and water and fixing up their basements.

Although we had erased polio and smallpox by early in my life, the threat of epidemic still gets headlines. Remember the swine flu scare? Or Legionnaires Disease? And Ebola? Now we have avian flu in our everyday fear vocabulary.

When I lived at the head of a hollow in Doddridge County, I found myself often visited by Jehovah’s Witnesses. As you may know from similar encounters, their founders previously predicted the exact date of the end of the world—a date that has long since passed.

Perhaps the most popular cartoon ever drawn has been the one featuring a man holding a sign that reads: "The End of the World Is Near." Cartoonists have had a field day captioning this one.

From “The Blob” to “Alien” and from “War of the Worlds” to “Independence Day”, Hollywood has exhausted every conceivable plot regarding extraterrestrial destruction of Earth.

Hollywood needed a new villain. Thus a star, Al Gore, was born.

Given the box office receipts for “The Perfect Storm” and “The Day After Tomorrow”, is it any wonder that Al Gore’s movie won the Oscar? Although the special effects in “An Inconvenient Truth” are lacking (everyone knows that glacier ice falls much faster), documentaries are not held to the same standard as are feature films.

This new Greenmania has already had an economic effect on the American economy. Ethanol receives a 51-cents-per-gallon tax credit which is paid for by general tax revenue—not at the gas pump. Experts argue both sides when it comes to answering the question of how much energy it takes to produce ethanol. Since ethanol enjoys both a tax credit and tariff protection (54¢ per gal.), we can conclude that domestic ethanol is not a competitive motor fuel in its own right.

Not tracked in the cost of ethanol production is the fact that corn prices have (at times) doubled since 2004. This increase directly affects the cost of corn flakes, meat, poultry, and soft drinks as well as other foods indirectly. Many food companies have switched from corn oil and corn syrup to cheaper substitutes that are still more expensive than corn was in the pre-ethanol era.

So then, we have already spent billions going green, and we haven’t made a dent in global warming, human-caused or otherwise.

We will be taxed billions more when Congress begins rationing carbon emission rights. West Virginians have always enjoyed low electricity rates. That will change when our coal-fired power plants have to buy emission rights.

Twenty years from now, the country will realize that the global warming scare was just another passing disaster fad—the same as dioxin and Times Beach. Unfortunately, we will have paid dearly to learn that lesson.

For the interim, Greenmania is the new religion. Human-caused global warming is its fall from grace genesis. And Al Gore is its proselytizing Elmer Gantry.

Years ago, I fell asleep watching television. I woke up about 5 am and found myself watching the “PTL Club” for the very first time. Jim Bakker and his guests sat in easy chairs and grinned religiously while Tammy Faye belted out a song.

That was really scary, and I haven’t slept soundly since.


David G. Allen, Clarksburg, WV


"It's the End of the World, and I Can't Sleep" originally appeared in the April 6th, 2007 issue of the West Virginia State Journal. (see also: )




Copyright 1990-2007  David G. Allen