Is doomsday coming?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-12-09
The National Geographic TV series titled DOOMSDAY PREPPERS generated global awareness to peoples’ fears of the impending collapse of social order that governments will fail to address. The doomsday preppers believe that with the collapse of social order — it becomes every man for himself, where only the fittest survives.

These days, the bulk of these concerns are focused on the doomsday prediction that’s linked to the Mayan calendar. The doomsday fear linked to the Mayan prediction was of such serious concern that America’s NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) decided to address it with a Q and A (Question and Answer) Brief.

These are some of the more interesting points that NASA had stated:

(Q): Are there any threats to the Earth in 2012? Many Internet websites say the world will end in December 2012.

Answer (A): The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.

Q: What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end in 2012?
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A: The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 — hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012.

Q: Does the Mayan calendar end in December 2012?

A: Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then — just as your calendar begins again on January 1 — another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.

Q: Is NASA predicting a “total blackout” of Earth on Dec. 23 to Dec. 25?

A: Absolutely not. Neither NASA nor any other scientific organization is predicting such a blackout. The false reports on this issue claim that some sort of “alignment of the Universe” will cause a blackout. There is no such alignment (see next question). Some versions of this rumor cite an emergency preparedness message from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. This is simply a message encouraging people to be prepared for emergencies, recorded as part of a wider government preparedness campaign. It never mentions a blackout.

Q: Could planets align in a way that impacts Earth?

A: There are no planetary alignments in the next few decades and even if these alignments were to occur, their effects on the Earth would be negligible. One major alignment occurred in 1962, for example, and two others happened during 1982 and 2000. Each December the Earth and sun align with the approximate center of the Milky Way Galaxy but that is an annual event of no consequence.

Q: Is the Earth in danger of being hit by a meteor in 2012?

A: The Earth has always been subject to impacts by comets and asteroids, although big hits are very rare. The last big impact was 65 million years ago, and that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Today NASA astronomers are carrying out a survey called the Spaceguard Survey to find any large near-Earth asteroids long before they hit. We have already determined that there are no threatening asteroids as large as the one that killed the dinosaurs. All this work is done openly with the discoveries posted every day on the NASA Near-Earth Object Program Office website, so you can see for yourself that nothing is predicted to hit in 2012.

Q: How do NASA scientists feel about claims of the world ending in 2012?

A: For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence? There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012.

Q: Is there a danger from giant solar storms predicted for 2012?

A: Solar activity has a regular cycle, with peaks approximately every 11 years. Near these activity peaks, solar flares can cause some interruption of satellite communications, although engineers are learning how to build electronics that are protected against most solar storms. But there is no special risk associated with 2012. The next solar maximum will occur in the 2012-2014 time frame and is predicted to be an average solar cycle, no different than previous cycles throughout history.

My first encounter with one of these doomsday preppers was during the late 1970s when an American lawyer, then representing the business interests of my boss in Los Angeles, California, shared with me his on-going preparations for building a survival camp. It surprised me to see a top lawyer talk about how he and several similar thinkers are building their sort of keep and last redoubt in the face of what they seriously perceive as an eventual breakdown of law and order in the US. Theirs is purely a fear that the US is headed for anarchy.

Doomsday scenarios are varied. Some fear doomsday will come with the full wrath of climate change. That’s probably the most scientific and believable of all the doomsday theories. Others fear an alien invasion that will seek to enslave or eliminate mankind. These people may have had an overdose of watching Star Trek. These days the fear is focused on the predictions of the Mayan calendar.

My lawyer-friend and his friends pooled their resources and they weren’t just stock piling on food and medicines but on armaments as well. They were ready to kill any and all who would attempt to invade their enclave.

We Filipinos should be proud that we’re discussing these doomsday scenarios in order to entertain ourselves, and not to scare one another. For many Filipinos, low wages and high prices are more to fear than these doomsday scenario.

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Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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