I only heard about the end-of-the-world 5/21 group late in the week. I think I had seen a billboard as much as a month ago and just rolled my eyes - it was probably the same people. I don't know much about them, so maybe they have done some awful things I haven't heard about. Yet my naturally contrarian nature, listening to so many people gleefully picking on them - clearly needing some group like this in order to a) feel good about themselves, like the the 6th-grade bully, and b)laboring to tie this group to whatever opponents they have in this world - stepped back and looked at this differently.
Compared to environmental catastrophists, it should be noted that these folks
1) Spent their own money on the billboards and publicity
2) Expected nothing in return, so were merely generous
3) Did not attack those who disagreed with them
I will note that the frequent defense of the embarrassing facts that environmentalist predictions have gone laughably, ridiculously wrong - that they're still right, they just got the decade wrong - may well apply to the end-of-the-worlders as well. In fact, they will eventually be right.
Fools they may be, but I admire this. We are called to be fools for Christ, and they have put themselves out there with greater risk than most Christians dare. Al Gore, Paul Ehrlich, Bill McKibben - these people have got pretty good gigs going, haven't they? That's certainly their right, and heck, they may even be right. But the altruism piece rings rather hollow. They're wrong, they've made money off it, and they sneer at others.
I know which group I'd rather live next door to.