The end isn’t near

The fears about 2012 being the end of the world are overblown and unscientific

Amidst the stress of last minute assignments and final exams, it seems the Mayans have given us one more reason to be anxious. The 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar is thought to end on December 21, 2012, which people believe signifies the end of the world or some other huge catastrophe. Yet while people are packing their survival kits and preparing for disaster, I disagree that this date has any significance whatsoever.

Television shows like Doomsday Preppers on the National Geographic Channel and other forms of media that promote belief in the end of the world are just unnecessary hype around the supposed doomsday. I say “supposed” because there is no credible evidence that December 21, 2012 is truly the end of the world, other than an ancient calendar; a calender that may not be correct according to recent findings. The belief that the Mayan calender ends on December 21, 2012 was actually disproved recently by a discovery by William Saturno of Boston University. According to USA TODAY Saturno and his peers found Mayan wall drawings that show the world does not in fact end on this date, but survives well beyond 2012. So while people such as those on “Doomsday Preppers” are teaching themselves survival techniques and planning for catastrophe, all their fear is unfounded because the world is not going to end.

If you do not believe me, then maybe you will believe professionals. A recent article from disagreed with apocalypse believers and argued that the Mayan calendar is no indication of the end of the world. The scientists in the article asked, “Where is the science? Where is the evidence?” And to answer their questions, there is none. There is no credible indication for any of these doomsday assertions, yet some people continue to believe.

Those who argue that the world is going to end have many different theories as to how, but one of the most common beliefs is that a planet or brown dwarf called Nibiru is nearing the Earth and will destroy Earth as it approaches. Responding to this theory, NASA scientists said that there is no factual basis for these claims and that “[i]f Nibiru were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye.”

It appears to me that if NASA does not believe the world is going to end, then December 21, 2012 is nothing to be afraid of. However, that does not mean we should not be cautious on that date. Although the world is not going to end, there are still people who believe it will, and with no definite future in sight those people might act irrationally. December 21, 2012, although not the end of the world, may still be dangerous. I predict a possible increase in alcohol and drug abuse, which could result in unsafe situations. Substance abuse is common for those trying to combat nervousness because alcohol and drugs suppress those negative emotions. In such a hopeless situation as ‘the end of the world,’ nervous emotions and stress will be running high and according to Emma Childs, a researcher at the University of Chicago, “Stress may also alter the way that alcohol makes us feel in a way that increases the likelihood of drinking more alcohol.” This may be true on December 21, and alcohol abuse could very well be rampant. That means being out in public at this time, specifically driving, could be very dangerous. In addition, I have already been informed of many ‘end of the world’ parties that will be taking place on the 21st and I can only assume that these parties will provide copious amounts of alcohol and elicit unwise and foolish behavior. So while packing a survival kit is not necessary, we should all still be alert and prepared for possible dangers on this date. Aside from being cautious, though, just focus on final exams and direct your stress toward school; there is no reason to worry about December 21 because the world will not end in 2012.

Meredith Berger’s column appears Mondays in The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached

related stories