The end of the world is coming…

The end of the world is coming…
… it’s just late (like everything else).

So, here we go with another year that is destined to be filled with doomsday prediction lunacy. The last time this happened (in our society) was 1999; a (perfectly normal) end-of-millennium panic reinforced by Y2K — and I note that our self-proclaimed superior culture hasn’t even learned the lesson from that; many people I know haven’t stopped noting years in two digits (rather than the four they would be using if we, collectively, had learned that particular lesson).

The comment thread on Enviromint’s recent take on the prelude to the end of the world led me (thanks, Martin) to Wikipedia’s article on the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar (AKA ‘the Mayan Calendar’), where, scudding by all the esoterics, I came upon this telling passage (my bold):

Despite the publicity generated by the 2012 date, Susan Milbrath, curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, stated that “We have no record or knowledge that [the Maya] would think the world would come to an end” in 2012.[33] “For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle,” says Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies in Crystal River, Florida.

To render December 21, 2012, as a doomsday event or moment of cosmic shifting, she says, is “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.”[33]

There will be another cycle,” says E. Wyllys Andrews V, director of the Tulane University Middle American Research Institute (MARI). “We know the Maya thought there was one before this, and that implies they were comfortable with the idea of another one after this.[34]

Of course, the Maya might have been wrong about another cycle following the current one. (I’d ask one, but, wait, I can’t, because… their civilisation no longer exists).

They could have been wrong, since, after all, they were only human, too.

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About pendantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
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15 Responses to The end of the world is coming…

  1. Martin_Lack says:

    The Discovery Channel’s 2012 Apocalypse programme (see my comments on Enviromint’s blog for the link) is worth watching in full because, if for no other reason, it nails this stupid hysteria once-and-for-all when it points out that direct descendants of the Mayan people (i.e. still living in Guatemala etc) that still use their ancient calendar for calculating dates are not worried about the world coming to an end: As a film director would say, “Cut and print. We’re done here!

  2. A good topic to discuss Colin… I don’t believe there will be an apocalypse.. never have… I believe a higher awareness is happening though… People are no longer accepting their lot and are beinning to question things about their lifepath journey etc… Shifts and cycles are happening constantly in the universe and I believe 2012 to be a marker in these cycles for the inner being within all of us that yearns to be true to itself.. rather than part of a system destined for the benefit of the few… 🙂
    Jen.xxx

    • pendantry says:

      Good to see you back here after all this time, Jen (I think it’s interesting to note that our, err, ‘estrangement’ was effectively caused by the shutdown of Windows Live Spaces; another example of technology experts not fully understanding the tools they wield).

      Concerning the idea of an apocalypse, I suppose it does depend to a large extent upon what the word ‘apocalypse‘ means to each of us. (Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis; “lifting of the veil” or “revelation”.) I think, for instance, that an apocalypse of sorts happens every single day, in that each day some thirty thousand plus human beings starve to death; perhaps another apocalypse — in the sense of ‘lifting the veil’ — will happen one day when some of those who scream loudest about relatively trivial ‘human rights’ (while at the same time neglecting this daily holocaust, and others) will come to realise that perhaps they’re being a tad selfish.

      I for one expect to see a great many changes in the coming years. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that one possible future entails our tiny, inconsequential planet becoming devoid of life, for a time.

      Gaia, swirling heaven.
      Mankind blossoms, then explodes;
      the end: just deserts?

      • jpgreenword says:

        “I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that one possible future entails our tiny, inconsequential planet becoming devoid of life, for a time.”
        My science education has me respectfully disagreeing with you on that point. I could see the planet becoming devoid of human life. But, for lack of a less cheesy expression, “life always finds a way”.
        Mother nature will take her sweet time adapting to whatever nasty thing we might do – including drastically changing the world’s climate. What will probably end up happening is us damaging the Earth’s natural systems to the point where human life will no longer be supported. We are shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot and we are too distracted to feel the pain.
        On that cheerful note… : )

        • pendantry says:

          I hate to disagree with you, but — none of what you have said here refutes your quote of my words. I’d disagree that ‘life always finds a way’, in that it usually does, yes, where it can: but life (as we know it) has certain prerequisites (liquid water, for one). If, by our actions, we effectively move the Earth out of the ‘Goldilocks zone‘, life won’t be able to find a way, on this planet. But that is only one (of the many) possible futures ahead. My crystal ball is at the mender’s.

          As for human life: that’s another matter. If we foul our nest so badly that we can no longer survive in it: well, perhaps that’s ‘just deserts‘, as I said.

          I’m not so certain that we disagree, after all 🙂

          • jpgreenword says:

            I see your point. Maybe I just lack the imagination to see how we could get the planet out of the “Goldilocks” zone (thanks for the link!).
            So, maybe we just disagree on the details : )

          • pendantry says:

            Hmm… although both of those videos touch on the concept of tipping points, neither of them actually goes as far as admitting that it is theoretically possible to push the Earth’s environment beyond the point at which it can sustain any life. But I’m sure you must agree that this is a possibility: we’ve never been here before.

          • jpgreenword says:

            That was a great video. Thanks.

      • Martin Lack says:

        At first, I was struggling to see what exactly you were potentially disagreeing about. However, for the record, I think it is quite likely that the runaway Greenhouse Effect could render the Earth incapable of supporting all life because the seas will have all been boiled dry… What I struggle with, however, is James Hansen’s assertion that this could happen in as little as 500 years! [This is the rather shocking conclusion he reaches at the end of Storms of my Grandchildren].
        See also my discussion with Adam Benton after something I wrote was re-posted by Paul Handover on Learningfromdogs

        • pendantry says:

          Hi, Martin. I’m wondering why you would struggle with such an assertion. Five hundred years is a long time (in human terms, at least) — look how much damage we’ve already done to our planet in just the past two centuries!

          It’s amazing how small changes mount up — see, for instance, my post (from three years ago — how time flies!): Ten doublings.

      • Martin Lack says:

        I did notice that Hansen points out that the speed of glacier melting may currently be doubling every 10 or 20 years and, yes, I understand why it is therefore anticipated that mountain glaciers could all be gone within 50 years. However, does the same acceleration really allow for 4000m thick ice caps to melt and then for 4000m deep oceans to evaporate in as little as 500 years? I would like to have seen some maths to back this up but Hansen did not offer any!

        • pendantry says:

          He didn’t? That’s odd. But then, Did he give a ‘this is pure speculation, but’ caveat? (I haven’t yet read Storms of my Grandchildren – but I now have it on order…).

          Not everything in the universe has been researched yet. Perhaps someone is working on answers as we speak?

  3. Good to be here again Colin… 🙂 I have to agree there.. since live spaces has shut down.. folk have just lost touch and drifted away… I wish it had just been left the way it was.. but things change.. so I make the most of the wordpress spaces… The layouts arn’t too bad here and I can always point folk to them… 🙂
    Thankyou for explaining the meaning of ” apocalypse “, I’ve never thought to look it up.. as my mum is religious and thinks the end of the world is nigh and is always trying to ” convert ” me bless her… 🙂 I must admit though it’s something I swerve with her if you know what I mean hahaha… 😀
    I agree with what you say on the whole.. my belief is people are becoming more aware.. gaining more knowledge.. searching for more answers and growing as a result … My hope is.. that it entails looking beyond the ” self “.. towards the collective and positive changes are brought about for the benefit of all…
    None of us know what tomorow will bring though.. so I just live in the ” now ” and try to do my bit as best I can… 🙂
    Have a magical day… 🙂
    Jen.xxx

    • pendantry says:

      If it’s ok with you, I’ll submit our joint application to the mutual appreciation society. I didn’t actually know what the definition of the word was, myself, but your post led me on a path that enlightened 🙂

  4. pendantry says:

    Reblogged this on Wibble and commented:

    Interesting… I wonder if I can ‘reblog’ my own blog? It’s looking like I can, and since today is a day to drink up (as the world’s about to end) I don’t see a lot of point in spending the last few hours composing a different take — just in case 😉

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