It is the evening here in the GMT-4 time zone on December 21st, 2012. Barring a power outage that was just another problem at my country’s ever so reliable power company, today has been a day like any other and I do not see that changing. I have admittedly been joking quite a lot about the end of world and have permitted myself some indulgence in The History Channel’s numerous features on the impending doom. Well, what can I say? It’s some good television!
Even as I blog however, the crazies are in full swing. Apart from those who just truly believe the end is near, there are others gearing to survive doomsday. Some have developed evacuation plans, stockpiled supplies and constructed shelters. The more wealthy ones have in fact been buying luxury underground shelter accommodation that can keep them alive for about 3 years in isolation. Some are gathering at the French mountain Pic de Bugarach which they believe conceals an alien spacecraft to whisk them to safety. Probably good business for the villagers there, if nothing else.
We have all heard the stories about the Mayan calendar ending. Listen, it’s a long count calendar. Just as the end of our yearly calendar does not mean the end of the world, the end of the Mayan long count calendar does not mean the end of the world either. If it did then you probably would not be reading this right now.
Now what about this matter of the galactic alignment? Yes, yes we are going to be aligned with the galactic center. It’s a very long, drawn out process and believe me; if something were going to happen we would have been seeing the signs for a long time now. You know, sort of the way you smell the pie before you see it.
The rogue planet Nibiru? It does not exist. If a rogue planet were going to hit us, it would have been clear in the skies for quite some time now. A major asteroid or comet impact? We would have known it was coming by now too. Pole shift? That’s a very real gradual process of the magnetic poles changing…not the Earth physically going topsy-turvy.
But can the world really end? YES! It just won’t happen today.
Our sun is roughly halfway into its life as a yellow star. Eventually it will burn out its current fuel supply and swell into a red giant, consuming the inner solar system. If the Earth is not consumed it will certainly be roasted like your favorite coffee bean. This will take place approximately 4.5 billion years from now. Long before that happens the sun will steadily grow warmer until the Earth is no longer capable of supporting life. The Earth as we know it today has about 500 million years to go.
We don’t need to worry. Modern humans are far younger than that with human civilization only even existing for a few thousand years now. 500 million years into the future we would likely not recognize our descendants and if they are around they would have spread far beyond the Earth.
It is possible of course that we could be impacted by an asteroid or comet similar to the one that ended the reign of the dinosaurs. We are however a space capable technological civilization and have the capacity to detect and deflect such a global killer long before it strikes. For example, scientists are already tracking the asteroid Apophis to ensure we know when, if ever, we have a potential impact event to deal with.
Our demise is more likely to be self inflicted. I don’t think we will see a nuclear winter; while we might have sufficient nuclear weapons on the planet to pull it off, the nations that hold those weapons are not very likely to use them. Those that are don’t have enough capacity. There is a reason that only two bombs were ever dropped. There is a reason that the US and Russia never went to full scale war. It’s called M.A.D.: Mutually Assured Destruction.
What about biological weapons though? We have the capability to create a super virus. The kind of virus that would make the Bubonic Plague look like a walk in the park. We have already been playing with the H5N1 virus, that often fatal infection better known as Bird Flu. I’m not even kidding. If we are looking at the possible end of life as we know it, that is what we need to worry about. A super virus may not completely wipe out the human race but it will most certainly push the reset button on our civilization.
The crazies have had their time. We lived through the prophecies of Y2K and 2012. Unless I am blogging from the afterlife, we are still here. Let us not forget however that our continued existence is not assured. We won’t die by some ancient superstition that falls down at the first touch of scientific enquiry, but we can at any time by our own hands.
Food for thought.