By Kimberly Clark, Science Tuesday Editor
According to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, the end of the world will be Dec. 21.
I doubt anyone finds this statement majorly shocking or troublesome. People have been anticipating some sort of cataclysmic event for years. William Miller, a Baptist preacher, thought that, according to the Bible, the end of the world would occur by March 21, 1844. Fifty thousand New Englanders believed him. Obviously, it didn’t happen.
Harold Camping, an American Christian radio broadcaster, claimed that Miller’s interpretation of the Bible was wrong and that the end of the world was going to be May 21, 2011. I think we can all call him out on that one.
And even Hollywood threw its interpretation into the mix and gave us the movie “2012.”
So the idea that the world will come to an end is not a new one and despite certain predictions, it hasn’t happened yet. But does that mean we shouldn’t worry?
Well, in terms of the Mayan calendar interpretation, I don’t think it should be something to lose sleep over. Studying for finals will do that to you, anyway.
However, the people who are losing sleep over a possible end to the world are convinced that the end of the Mayan “long count” calendar, which lands on Dec. 21, 2012, spells disaster for the world as we know it. The last time the “long count” calendar ended was in the Gregorian year 1000. And yet, here we are.
But it’s not to imply that a cataclysmic event cannot occur. It happened to the dinosaurs 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the earth and vaporized sulfur-rich rocks which resulted in acid rain and plummeting global temperatures.
There was also that volcanic eruption in Siberia 250 million years ago that caused the extinction of approximately 80 percent of all species.
Today, according to NASA, Earth is surrounded by nearly 10,000 asteroids that are within striking distance. Also, the levels of carbon dioxide are higher than they have ever been in 800,000 years. And from the extreme weather patterns the world has experienced over the years (the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Typhoon Bopha, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, to name a few), we should know by now that Mother Nature isn’t fooling around. Global warming is no joke. Thank you, humans.
So maybe the more important question is not just if the world will end, but how and when?