Picks Central KY. Town to Survive 'Apocalypse
is not a new theory, but there is a new book out
that backs the premise with all kinds of sleep-killing
stuff like that we're a million years overdue
for a good mass extinction. And that the Earth's
magnetic field is developing a crack. And that
the Yellowstone supervolcano is about to catapult
those tiny 10 percent of us who survive it into
A planet holds its collective breath. But wait,
the author thinks there might be one place on
Earth that can just survive the whole shebang
Let the real estate land rush begin. Let the
good times roll. Let us laugh at the Mayans.
Now let's see what this man's got by way of explanation.
Lawrence Joseph, author of Apocalypse 2012: A
Scientific Investigation Into Civilization's End,
says that Jerusalem, Angkor Wat, the Vatican and
Mecca might be natural choices but, no, "of
all the sacred sites in the world, none embodies
the sacred Mayan values of service to humanity
and Mother Earth like the town of Berea, Kentucky."
Joseph goes on for a page about the origin of
the town's name (Acts 17:10-14), about the fabulousness
of Berea College and its Ecovillage and about
the whole region's remarkable seismic and volcanic
Then he urges us all to pray and prepare and
The reaction to all this in Berea has been, well,
not panic. And not exactly glee either.
Unless you're a Realtor.
Promised Land, Ky.
Landwise, we're talking about 7.8 square miles.
Temperaturewise, on average, it's 56.8 deg. F.
Rainfallwise, it gets about 48.8 inches a year.
"Things are looking up," says Phil
Malicote, office manager and Realtor at Don Foster
Prudential Real Estate, who is thinking of adding
some extra staff to serve the expected realty-starved
David Rowlett, executive director of the Berea
Chamber of Commerce, thinks that folks in Florida
are already in on the secret, judging from the
number of queries he's getting from the hurricane-prone
state and helping to make the area "one of
the fastest growing in the state."
He adds that all are welcome, even the kooks.
"We've got our share of those already."
The non-glee faction, on the other hand, isn't
exactly oozing enthusiasm for the prospect.
Nuclear winter? Not that easy escaping that,
says Richard Olson, director of sustainable and
environmental studies at Berea College and on
the city's Planning and Zoning Committee. Not
even if you've got composting toilets in a fraction
of your housing and heirloom beans on your vines.
As for sustainability, Olson says the town and
the college are as tied to the electrical grid
as anybody, with only three households in town
on the net-meter system. That means that three
households are "producing enough energy daily
to run a blender."
He says the college is trying to decrease its
energy usage from 2000 by 45 percent in the next
The progress is uphill.
"We are as fragile as any middle-income
community in America," Olson says. "We're
less sustainable every year with more productive
land going into development," he says, adding
that "every additional home and car owner
in town makes us even less sustainable, sucking
in materials and energy and putting out waste."
The idea that Apocalypse 2012 puts forth of a
special link between Berea and the Mayans (their
longitudinal location and spiritual values) made
Olson suggest that, while he's not amused by general
planet abuse, he will most certainly entertain
the notion of purchasing a Mayan Force Field for
the city if one is offered.
Olson says that the threats to human civilization
that are visible this minute -- the overpopulation,
the warming climate, the social system breakdown,
the warfare, the economic collapse of countries
whose trade deficits could bankrupt them -- are
real and severe and we don't have to go looking
for errant spewing solar plasma to strike us down.
Still, he's thinks the planet will be here in
100 million years. Not so humanity, mind you,
but the planet. And its biosphere should be back
to being lovely by then.
This all sort of raises the question, why Berea?
Seems Apocalypse 2012 author Lawrence Joseph
came to Berea in the early '90s after having met
a trustee of Berea College at a party given by
the Society of Kentucky Women (who apparently
have emigrated happily to Manhattan). Anyway,
the party was "both stately and julepy"
and invitations flew around and one thing led
to another and he found himself in "this
impressive little place" while writing a
book on how uncommon common sense is.
The book, Common Sense: Why It's No Longer Common,
was Joseph's first, followed shortly by tomes
on the Gaia movement, John Lennon and the 1980s
lifestyle. He is currently the chairman of the
board of Aerspace Consulting Corp., a New Mexico-based
plasma physics company. He now lives in Beverly
A self-defined "Ivy League Northeastern
liberal," Joseph couldn't figure out how
this school in this little town was teaching all
the stuff he should have learned at Brown but
And so he was enchanted and, ultimately, the
experience set him on a path to his research into
the future of the planet and to the modest proposal
that "things will not necessarily all go
blank in 2012 but that the world will change dramatically
and tumultously'' such that nothing will be as
we know it.
Those of us who follow University of Kentucky
basketball fear that every year.
Still, the topic is not new. Neither is the prediction.
While he was not immediately available for comment,
Mark Twain was known to have addressed the whole
region's ability to outperform the planet on Doomsday.
He had just spent a year in Cincinnati.
"'When the end of the world comes, I want
to be in Cincinnati," he said, "because
it's always 20 years behind the times."
The news is not good: We're all toast in five
years and 11 months if the great timekeeping Mayans
had their stars right.
The ancient tribe was so sure, it named the date
(psssst, it's Dec. 21, 2012) when they just stopped
their calendars and said, in effect, the world
as we know it would end.