Doomsday scenarios greet the year ahead

Happy New Year. We say that sincerely because a subspecies of dark pessimists known as “doomers” believes 2011 will be our last year together since the Earth will come to an end in 2012.

One apocalyptic theory even has a specific date, Dec. 21, 2012, supposedly based on a reading of an ancient Mayan calendar. On that day, according to one theory, Armageddon will come and the world will be destroyed. Or, according to another theory, we will undergo a spiritual transformation and enter an age of enlightenment.

Anyway, one of those two.

The British newspaper the Telegraph helpfully compiled a list of the more popular theories about how we are going to meet our end. Sadly for the Mayan theory, the paper contacted a Mayan elder who said the world will not end in 2012 and, moreover, he is “fed up with this stuff.” For what it is worth, NASA also said the world will not end in 2012.

One doughty band of doomers believes the world will be destroyed or enslaved by an invasion of space aliens. As evidence of this, they cite what they say is an increasing number of UFO sightings.

Another popular version of the death-from-outer-space theory is that a rogue planet, variously named Nibiru or Planet X, will collide or pass catastrophically close to Earth. The planet has gone undiscovered because of an erratic orbit that will keep it hidden until later next year.

That is, if a massive solar flare does not wipe out life on Earth first. Astronomers do say the sun will eventually turn into a massive red ball and engulf the Earth — but not for another 5 billion years.

That would leave 2012 clear for a sudden reversal of the Earth’s magnetic poles, causing the planet’s rotation to reverse with all the havoc that would entail. Scientists say the North Pole does, in fact, move, but over a time frame of millions of years.

Closer to home, the doomers are anxiously awaiting the eruption of a massive supervolcano underneath Yellowstone National Park, triggering a nuclear winter and launching another ice age that will, of course, wipe out most of us.

Taking a broader view, The Telegraph posited, “A total environmental collapse brought about by runaway warming, toxic poisoning of the seas … or a tipping point with some of the most crucial species [the paper cites the disappearance of bees] would have a huge impact upon civilisation [sic] and could render parts of the world near uninhabitable.”

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