I'd say the world is truly in uniquely dire straits. For example, the Planet has experienced previous waxings and wanings of climate changes, but never has it had the huge human population numbers it now has. For example, with the fully documented melting of the Himalayan glaciers, one-third of humanity--in South Asia, mainland Southeast Asia, and East Asia--soon will be lacking in fresh water supplies.
Yet, I'd say, from observing global history, the world has always been in a steady-state "end-times." Look at 14th-century Europe (with its Hundred-Years' War and the Black Death, when one-third of Europeans perished) as explicated by Barbara Tuchmann, in "A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century." What would the Incans have concluded when the Spaniards invaded in 1520, or the Aztecs, or the Mayans, or the North American Native Americans when their civilizations were being destroyed? Or, the people of Alsace-Lorraine when their region changed hands seven times due to seven wars between France and Germany in the four decades before World War I? Or, the tumultuous and mind-boggling events of 20th-century China with its great famines and warlords stalking the land, the invasion of Japan and WW II, and the communist takeover with the human disasters of the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution--that affected hundreds of millions of people? Or, Europe from WW I, through the Great Depression, the rise of Hitler, the Holocaust, and WW II?
It seems that any peaceful lull in history was only a time when dark forces were gathering for the punctuated disasters looming over the horizon. It should be obvious that human history over its entire time-frame has rarely been peaceful. Social breakdown? Read about it any time in the 20th or even 19th-century. Economic recession or even depression in America? Nineteen, I believe, since 1776. Wars? Too many to count. Pestilence? How about the plague of London, in 1665, or the 1917 world-around Great Influenza Epidemic, when perhaps 40 million people died?
The quote above, when the Archbishop Wolfstan stated that the world was rushing toward its end, came just 14 years after a great panic in Europe, when it was widely believed the world would "end" with the turning over of the millennium. Seems humans have in their psychological apparatus a great capacity for "hypertrophy of social cognition," which induces us to see purpose, design, even intention when it is not there. As a boy, I spent some wonderful moments in my side yard picking out the faces in the clouds. Studies have shown that when people are presented with truly random numbers, they do not believe the randomicity, as they believe they detect patterns. Think of John Forbes Nash, Jr. (the Russel Crowe character) in the film "A Beautiful Mind." The human mind is beautiful alright--or, at least adept--in imagining patterns in historical events, especially when it has been influenced by 2000-year-old apocalyptic writings, and a belief in teleological programming. Look for patterns, "patterns" will be there.
It has been a rather steady-state apocalyptic times for humanity in most all world regions. The Four Horsemen have always been galloping toward us. When were they ever not?