The one good thing about the New Year’s Day global hangover is that we can all take solace in the fact that the year can only get better. This year, however, a nasty headache on January 1 might be the least of our worries – apparently, the world is set to come to an end in 2012. Well, it is if the Mayans are to be believed. The ancient Central-American race developed what is known as the Mesoamerican Long Count, a linear calendar that comes to an end on December 21, 2012 – a date that has been interpreted by many to signify the end of the world.
While the Mayans were good enough to give us a date, they failed to mention how exactly we’d meet our demise. Some have theorised that 433 Eros, an asteroid measuring 13km x 13km x 33km – the second-largest ‘Near Earth Object’ (NEO) on record – as a likely cause, though this doesn’t fit with the Mayan timeline: the NEO is set TO brush past earth in January, not late December, and by ‘brush’, we mean miss the planet by an estimated 26.7 million km. Alternatively, some geologists believe that 2012 marks the end of a 74,000-year super volcano cycle, which would cause a great deal more inconvenience than a few delayed flights (ie the end of life as we know it), though it’s comforting that an equal number of beardy nerds have dismissed this theory as poppycock. Meanwhile, Mausumi Dikpati of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has been banging on about a massive solar storm due next year. If such a storm were to occur, it’s unlikely to destroy the earth outright, but would play havoc with our increasingly computer-dependent world by damaging all electrical facilities and power stations (meaning no Facebook for a few years).
But before you start filling you shopping trolley with canned food, candles and all the loot you can possibly pilfer, it’s worth keeping in mind that 2012 isn’t the first time the world has been due to end. A few months ago, US-based Christian radio station Family Radio used a Sheikh Zayed Road billboard to advertise the Harold Camping Prediction of Doomsday on May 21, 2011. Suffice to say, the world didn’t end, the poster was taken down, and everyone who sold their worldly possessions looked a bit daft. Similarly, 16th-century seer Nostradamus seems to have predicted the end numerous times (1666, 1999, 2012 and 2096). Cheat. Refreshingly, the Qur’an is fairly philosophical about the end of the world, stating: ‘The knowledge there of [the end of the world] is with God alone, but most men know not’ (7:187).
As for us, well, we’re just happy to continue to prophesise the city’s best events every week. While 2012 might be the end of the world as we know it, Time Out feels fine.
More Doom and Gloom: Predictions for 2012
• The earth’s rotation axis might tip. We’re not sure if this means the sun will start rising from the West, but if it did, that would be pretty neat!
• World War III will befall us – as predicted by Nostradamus (thanks dude! Thanks very much!)
• Many new age spiritualists believe that we will enter an age of enlightenment, in which the human race will evolve into non-corporeal beings made of ‘spiritual’ or light energy. (We actually believe this, because we believe we’re special.)
• A secret government *COUGH* the free masons *COUGH* will achieve world domination and establish a new world order.
• The world will experience a period of terrible destruction which will then be followed by a new age of peace and enlightenment and there will be much rejoicing. Whoever came up with this one was cheating a bit. It’s like saying every dark cloud has a silver lining.
• Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her Diamond Jubilee if she’s still perched firmly atop the English throne by February.
• According to some alien-enthusiasts, the New Year will herald the return of alien ‘watchers’ or ‘caretakers.’ These guys were apparently responsible for helping the first human civilizations to develop technologically. Now they’ve waited long enough for us to reach a higher level of advancement and are rolling their sleeves for phase 2.
• The earth’s magnetic field is expected to reverse. Now before you roll your eyes at this one, you ought to know that it happened before... 800,000 years ago. Whether the occurrence will send us all haywire is uncertain.
• Richard C. Duncan’s book ‘The Peak of World Oil Production and the Road to the Olduvai Gorg’ claims that the Olduvai cliff (the final phase of decline from the Olduvia theory which states that industrial civilization has a life-span of 100 years or less) will begin and permanent blackouts will occur worldwide.
• The U.S presidential elections will take place. What, that doesn’t scare you?