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America's fascination with the apocalypse

19 July 2012 Last updated at 03:39 BST

The end of the world is nigh. Or so you might think if you immersed yourself in American popular culture.

From TV adverts to Hollywood movies, depictions of post-apocalyptic worlds are everywhere.

There is a long tradition of such apocalyptic thinking in the US. But as Matthew Barrett Gross and Mel Giles argue in their book The Last Myth, it has now moved beyond religious prophecies into the secular world.

The authors also claim that activists from both the political left and right have embraced apocalypse thinking, issuing dramatic warnings that everything from the traditional American way of life to the very existence of the planet is under threat.

Barrett Gross spoke to the BBC in Utah to explain why he believes the rise of apocalyptic thinking prevents some people from trying to reach more pragmatic solutions to 21st Century problems.

Produced for the BBC by David Eckenrode.

Music courtesy of Than Kehmeier