December 21, 2012 has adopted a notorious reputation. It can no longer simply be marked as “only four days left” on your Christmas advent calendar. No, December 21, 2012 has become widely known as the day that the world will end. Never mind counting down the days to Christmas, the ancient Maya marked this day as the one in which their calendar ends all together. Call it what you wish – doomsday, apocalypse, revelation – but is there any proof that our ancient ancestors indeed predicted the end of life on Earth as we know it?
The Maya civilization, most prominent around 250 A.D., were highly advanced in astronomy, architecture, and farming. Having such a strong civilization for their time largely contributes to how many people today believe that the Maya knew what was to come nearly 2000 years into the future. The truth is, contrary to ever-growing beliefs, the Maya didn’t actually set their calendar to end forever after December 21st . It is however, the day in which the largest cycle in their calendar ends. This “grand cycle” is 1,872,000 days, or 5,125.37 years, long. Just as our current calendars end and then repeat every 365 days, the Mayan calendar will also begin its cycle once again.
The Mayas did in fact predict something big to happen at the start of the new cycle, but it was more along the lines of an apocalypse than a catastrophic disaster. The definition of apocalypse that the Maya were referring to is a disclosure of knowledge, positive or negative, that had previously been hidden from most of mankind. Believers in this theory predict that civilization will change; our society will transform, and humans will continue to live, just in a different way than we do now. No one is sure of how our lives will change yet.
The Maya calendar is not the only speculation as to how the world will end. Another popular belief is that the planet Nibiru is due to collide with our planet Earth this December, during which it will wipe out all humanity. Nibiru supposedly circles our solar system every 3,600 years, and this visit, it will come so close to Earth that it will crash into us.
Scientific theories prove of this speculation wrong. To start, astronomers haven’t even been able to locate the so-called planet Nibiru. The idea of a planetary collision ending life on Earth sprouted in 1995 from Nancy Lieder, who claims she receives messages from aliens that inhabit the Zeta Reticuli star system. Lieder claims that she receives these messages through an implant in her brain. She was supposedly chosen to warn humans of the upcoming planetary collision that, according to her, was due in 2003. When that collision never happened, Lieder instead reset the date for none other than, you guessed it, December 2012.
Since no planet Nibiru can be identified in the solar system, some theories state that it was mistaken for the comet Elenin, although Elenin will never come closer to Earth than 100 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.
No matter how much scientific evidence proves any end of the Earth in 2012 to be false, thousands of people worldwide have decided they’d prefer to be safe rather than sorry.
In an ABC news article, 25-year-old Thomas Lehmann said he started researching 2012 when he was 12 years old, and still spends about 2 hours a day reading about it. He said he is saving money for survival gear, so that he is prepared for the worst. Some people have been known to invest in safe houses under the ground, while others have invested in gas masks, bullet-proof vests, and more.
Do students at North Toronto believe these conspiracy theories? “I think about that stuff a lot,” says grade 12 NT student Katusha Saraiva. “I do not think the world will end in 2012, although I think something will happen. I’m not sure what that something is yet.”
Fellow grade 12 student Nina Stephens agrees. “Hell no, the world won’t end until the sun burns out. Saying it’s going to end is like asking someone to leave their stomach outside before they enter your house, a.k.a impossible.”
Speaking of the sun burning out, NASA did in fact predict a sharp increase in the number of sun spots and sun flares for 2012, which are sure to cause satellite disruptions. However, even the sun follows a cycle, and approximately every 11 years, it reaches a high in the number of solar flares it emits. This is regular activity for the sun, and there have been no scientific predictions of solar flares large enough to fry our planet.
But what if we were sure that the world would end this coming December? “Heck, I’d live these next 11 months differently!” Katusha says. “I’d drop out of school and literally live each moment like it’s my last (because it would be).”
We’re scaring ourselves with all this talk of “the end”. The Maya predicted a large change in humanity at the start of the new calendar cycle. As it doesn’t make much sense for an external force to change our thoughts, behaviours, and actions come December 22nd, this may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If so, it is up to us in present day 2012 to determine whether the events after December 21st will be positive or negative.
So, although at this point no one can possibly know what will happen on December 21st, instead of living in fear, living this year like it’s our last could surely make it more enjoyable. Before you invest all your money in a safe house in preparation for 11 months from now, just think: if the entire world really was coming to a catastrophic end, how much could a hole under the ground do to save you?