Dec. 21, 2012: It’s almost here. For some, this date signals nothing more than the final three days of Christmas shopping. To others, however, it’s considered the end of the world. It is the date on which the 5,125-year-long cycle in Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, closely associated with the Mayan Civilization, will end.
Many people interpret that to mean the world as we know it will come to an end, often referring to Mayan and Hopi Native American prophecies about the end of the world. Many major religions insist the world will come to an end at some point, as well, including Christianity, Islam and Judaism (although none of them indicate it might happen this year). Indeed, as the Earth’s North and South poles shift magnetic positions and a growing number of natural disasters continue to plague the planet, there seems to be plenty of evidence that major change is afoot.
But what does the “end of the world” mean? Will the world literally be destroyed? Will there be some major catastrophe that only a small percentage of people will survive? Or does the date merely signal the end of one age and the beginning of another? Whatever Dec. 21, 2012 has in store for us, there’s not much we can do besides keep an LED flashlight and hunting knife handy, and get ready to survive.
Arguments for and Against the End of the World
The end-of-the-world debate has taken many different turns as people eye the Mayan calendar’s impending “deadline” and try to predict what will happen. A few of the more popular theories include:
Pole shift. Some people have pointed out that the infamous date coincides with the shifting of the planet’s magnetic poles. In 1904, the magnetic North Pole was located just off the northern tip of Nunavut’s King William Island. Since then, it has moved north/northwesterly about 6.2 miles per year. In 2001, however, scientists discovered that its pace suddenly quickened to more than 24.6 miles per year.
The argument is that if the shift were to again suddenly increase, this would affect the magnetic pull on the earth’s oceans and other water bodies, which could cause global turmoil.
Planet Nibiru. Another popular theory is that a rogue planet called Nibiru is responsible for this magnetic shift, and many fear this planet will come too close to Earth. However, according to the official NASA website, there is no planet called Nibiru. While some theorize that another planet may be responsible for the threat, NASA points out that if there was a planet approaching ours, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade; by now it would be visible by the naked eye.
Wrong date. On the other end of the spectrum, some researchers have cast doubt on the Dec. 21, 2012 date. Author Gerardo Aldana from the University of California has argued that the basis for the translation of the Mayan calendar into the western Gregorian calendar is not as reliable as previously assumed and could be off by as much as 50-100 years. If this is the case, it’s possible the “end of the world” has already come and gone.
One Thing We Know for Sure: Natural Disasters Lie Ahead
Even if the 2012 panic is all bunk, there’s no question that the world has been experiencing a dramatic increase in natural disasters. From 2000-2009, there were 385 natural disasters – an increase of 233 percent over 1980-1989 and of 67 percent over 1990-1999, according to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.
Whatever the cause of this rise in disasters may be, it pays to be prepared. And, incidentally, preparing for the end of the world (to the extent that we can do so) looks a lot like preparing for a flood, earthquake, hurricane or other catastrophe.
Disaster preparation varies from person to person, with some families stockpiling a modest amount of food and others spending thousands of dollars on preparing to live “off the grid.” Basic areas of concern include:
Food, water and medical supplies. In a major catastrophe, we cannot count on current infrastructure such as supermarkets or water supplies to continue functioning. Therefore, it’s important to not only stockpile these essential goods but to consider alternate means of survival – such as keeping water purification tablets handy or stashing away a hunting knife for skinning small game.
Lighting. Light is important not only for functioning in the dark, but for the safety it provides. An LED flashlight or lantern is currently the recommended source of lighting to include in your emergency kit. Or better yet, provide LED headlamps for each member of your family. That way, everyone has a source of light in case you get separated – plus, LED headlamps keep your hands free for cooking or performing other survival tasks.
Protection. Some survivalists consider stockpiling weapons a major part of their disaster planning. Times of turmoil can become a free-for-all, and well-prepared families may need to defend themselves against those who would pillage. For this purpose, your hunting knife can double as a form of protection, although it may not do much good against someone with a gun.