The fiscal cliff notwithstanding, the U.S. Government is assuring everyone that the world will not end on December 21, an event that many people believe the ancient Mayans predicted.
“False rumors about the end of the world in 2012 have been commonplace on the Internet for some time,” the government posted on December 5 on the blog section of its website “USA.Gov: Government Made Easy.” “Many of these rumors involve the Mayan calendar ending in 2012 (it won’t), a comet causing catastrophic effects (definitely not), a hidden planet sneaking up and colliding with us (no and no), and many others.”
After all, if the world were to end on December 21, when the 5,125-year-long Mayan 13th Bak’tun (long count) calendar flips to the next era, then all this worry about the January 1 fiscal cliff, when tax hikes and spending reductions kick in and supposedly strangle the U.S. economy, would be for naught.
Nevertheless, panic about this extends worldwide. In France, authorities recently closed off a mountain inexplicably designated by apocalypse believers as a refuge from the catastrophic event (or the pick-up point for the rescue space ship). Then there’s Russia, where, The New York Times reported on December 1, panic is severe enough across its nine time zones to cause group psychosis in a women’s prison, a mass stock-up of matches, kerosene, sugar and candles in a small industrial town, and the construction of a Mayan-style arch out of ice in a southern city.
So marked is the emotional outpouring that Russian government officials recently stepped forward, the Times reported. The country’s minister of emergency situations told citizens that he had it covered with “methods of monitoring what is occurring on the planet Earth” and assured them that the world would not end in December, but did remind them that more earthly ills would still be plentiful, namely “blizzards, ice storms, tornadoes, floods, trouble with transportation and food supply, breakdowns in heat, electricity and water supply.”
In addition the country’s chief sanitary health official also issued assurances, the Times said, as if the Russians, with their “penchant for mystical thinking,” were alone in needing government guarantees.
Now it’s Turtle Island’s turn.
“The world will not end on December 21, 2012, or any day in 2012,” the U.S. Government blog entry, "Scary Rumors About the World Ending in 2012 Are Just Rumors," reassuringly concluded.
The government’s efforts to take the edge off doomsday trepidations have a psychological basis, as many people, especially youngsters, are truly fearful.
“At least a once a week I get a message from a young person?as young as 11?who says they are ill and/or contemplating suicide because of the coming doomsday,” said David Morrison, a NASA senior scientist and a planetary astronomer, in the government statement.
Morrison notes on the site Ask an Astrobiologist, where he fields questions from the public about astrobiology in general, that he has posted at least 500 answers to the more than 5,000 queries about Nibiru (the rogue planet) and the supposed 2012 doomsday that the site has received. In fact, since the site answers questions about anything and everything regarding astrobiology, it can take two to three weeks for Morrison to post an answer because of his existing backlog. With December 21 less than three weeks away, any new questions posted may have to wait until after Christmas.
For those who are not convinced that what the government says is true, videos and scholarly debunkings abound. Besides the dissection of various scenarios by NASA, there are numerous astronomers who constantly monitor the skies and would have already seen, say, a rogue planet (which was actually due in 2003 but didn’t arrive) or an incoming comet (remember Hale-Bopp?).