Here’s a worthwhile read by Kurt Anderson on the New York magazine website on the “frisson of smug or hysterical pleasure” that characterizes contemporary “apocalypse preoccupations” — including those that have leached into “less-fantastical” — i.e. secular/Western/post-Enlightenment — “thought and conversation.”
My only beef is that Anderson goes a little too easy on environmental doomsayers, conceding that they may be “sincerely fearful of climate change” while focusing most of the piece on people who conceive apocalypse through the mechanics of religious prophecy.
It would be more fair to note that religious fanatics are “sincerely fearful” of moral corruption, believing it propels us toward global disaster. The ingredients are therefore identical. Start with widespread evil and thick-headedness. Then swap in some scary physical processes for a wrathful deity and voila, ya gots your post-modern secular kablooey.
The question is: who are you going to believe?