Nothing inspires fear like the end of the world, and ever since Y2K, the media’s tendency toward overwrought speculation has been increasingly married to the rhetoric of apocalypse. Today, nearly any event can be explained through apocalyptic language, from birds falling out of the sky (the Birdocalypse?) to a major nor’easter (Snowmageddon!) to a double-dip recession (Barackalypse! Obamageddon!). Armageddon is here at last — and your local news team is live on the scene! We’ve seen the equivalent of grade inflation (A for Apocalypse!) for every social, political, or ecological challenge before us, an escalating game of one-upmanship to gain the public’s attention. Why worry about global warming and rising sea levels when the collapse of the housing bubble has already put your mortgage underwater? Why worry that increasing droughts will threaten the supply of drinking water in America’s major cities when a far greater threat lies in the possibility of an Arab terrorist poisoning that drinking supply, resulting in millions of casualties?