Just about every video game, young adult novel and buzz-worthy streaming series agrees that we need to prepare for a post-apocalyptic world. Up ahead, around a sharp curve or off a cliff, it is waiting—The Apocalypse.

Maybe not “the complete final destruction of the world,” but certainly “an event involving destruction or damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale,” to quote the two definitions in the Oxford Online Dictionary. Not yet, but soon.

This has me wondering: How will we know when we move from pre- to post-apocalypse? This summer, my hometown in southern Oregon was crushed under a heat dome, sweltering in triple-digit temperatures. A fire across the state line ignited and within 24 hours exploded to become California’s largest wildfire this year so far.

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