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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Is 2012 the End?

This is Steven Petrick posting.

The year is nearly over, and in a few days time we will see the start of 2012. And once again we shall have doomsayers out saying that the world will end.

The current happy date is about 21 December when the Mayan calendar supposedly runs out. Why this is not seen as simply a larger version of 31 December (i.e., our 12 month calendar runs out every year) and the beginning of new long count is something of a mystery to me.

History is, however, replete with end of the world dates.

It is hard to believe but back in 999-1000 A.D. (C.E. if you choose) people literally ran into the hills in the belief that the world would end.

Truthfully, today we have more of an understanding that the world might suddenly end (at least in terms of the extinction of human civilization and perhaps of the human species).

We know about all those big rocks floating past planet Earth, and there is always a chance that one of them may have its orbit perturbed enough (or its long range trajectory was always heading for us anyway) and seek to become one with us. (Coincidentally, if I recall correctly one of those big rocks is due for a close approach sometime this year, but after it we are good to go until 2028 or so I have been told.)

We also know about volcanoes. By this I mean the "mega volcanoes" such as Yellowstone National Park. Modern science believes that about 50,000 or so years ago one of these let loose and almost drove us to extinction. And we were a lot tougher back then (we did not need indoor toilets or air conditioning and most of us could prepare food without the need of someone else to process the materials beforehand).

There is also, of course, all the global warming going on (which has been predicted to have various catastrophic effects "soon") as well as the continuing population explosion (just because we have always found a way to raise enough food so far it does not mean we will be able to do so in the future). This does not even mention the general concept of a Pandemic to make the Spanish Flu seem like a mild head cold.

We at least seem, for the time being, to be secure from nuclear annihilation on a grand scale (although nuclear terrorism seems more and more an inevitability).

Despite all of these dire warnings, I pretty much expect to go about my life pretty much as I have. There is nothing I can do about mega volcanoes or big rocks falling from the sky, and mother nature has been mixing and matching diseases for longer than we have been on this planet, and despite all the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments I have yet to see definitive proof that we as a species are causing global warming (the planet has had ice ages and periods of great warmth before we showed up as recognizable individuals in the fossil record).

And, in all honest, if the world were about to end, I would go about my own life as best I could. Going to the office and doing my job.