Mayan Calendar 2012: Should You Prepare for the End of the World?
Amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays, many people are discussing the possible end of the world on December 21, 2012. This supposedly was predicted centuries ago by the Mayan calendar. Some merely joke about this prophecy while others take it more seriously and seek to prepare for the possibility of the end of civilization as we know it. Since emergency preparedness is a serious issue, whether it is for the end of the world or a winter storm, it is worthwhile to investigate this prophecy a little further.
The Mayan Calendar
The Maya civilization was present from 2000 BC to AD 250. While they were known for their written language, art and architecture, in recent days they have become best known for their mathematical and astronomical calculations. The Mayans tracked lunar cycles to create short, monthly calendar periods while they also used planetary observations to establish longer range time cycles, or the Long Count calendar. For instance, the Mayans calculated that it takes 117 days for Earth and Mercury to complete one orbit and return to their original positions in relation to each other.
While many archaeologists and anthropologists believe that the Mayans only used the calculations to synchronize their sacred rituals with astrological events, many others believe that the Mayan calculations can be used to predict impending astronomical disasters as well. The Maya Long Count calendar is based on units of time called baktuns. Each baktun consists of 144,000 days and on December 21, 2012 the Long Count calendar will presumably have run through 13 baktuns which was a significant number for the Mayans. Many claim the December 21st date is the end of the Long Count calendar which signals the beginning of the apocalypse.
Possible Events on December 21, 2012
There are numerous speculations about the types of apocalyptic events that may occur on December 21, 2012. One possibility is either a planetary alignment, or an alignment of the earth and sun with the Milky Way Galaxy. Many believe that such an alignment will affect the earth’s magnetic surface. NASA denies that this claim because a planetary alignment is not expected to occur for the next few decades. Furthermore, NASA states that an alignment with planets or a galaxy will not affect the Earth in any way. Every year the earth and sun align with the Milky Way without any effects to the Earth.
Also feared by many is an impact by an asteroid or comet. NASA however reports that they conduct surveys for near-Earth asteroids and comets and there are no objects present that pose a risk to the planet Earth. Along with asteroids and comets, there is a rumor of a planet, Nibiru, on a collision course with the Earth. NASA has stated that there is no such planet and that all currently known dwarf planets are on orbits that will never bring them close enough to the Earth to cause a collision.
One final speculation is the possibility of solar flares powerful enough to disable power grids on the earth’s surface. According to NASA, solar flares occur on a regular basis, usually reaching a peak every 11 years. The next maximum solar flare is expected to occur sometime between 2012 and 2014 but its magnitude and timing is relatively unpredictable. The biggest solar flare ever recorded occurred in1859 and actually affected telegraph systems, causing sparks which shocked telegraph operators and set telegraph paper on fire. The following day, bright, multi-colored auroras also could be seen just before dawn by people across the globe. Another flare of this magnitude could possibly damage satellite electronics causing a disruption of radar, cell phone communications, and GPS receivers. The currents from the bright aurora displays of the Northern and Southern Lights may also affect power lines and telephone cables.
Is the End of the World a Possibility?
Archaeologists disagree with the claims that the Mayans predicted the end of the world because they do not believe the Mayans had apocalyptic visions. According to their findings, the Mayan culture was obsessed with cycles of time and believed in new beginnings but not endings. Newly discovered wall writings from the 9th century in Guatemala actually have calendars that go beyond 2012, indicating the Mayans did not believe the world will end just yet.
Experts do agree that the thirteenth baktun that we are approaching was predicted by the Mayans to be a milestone, but probably not an apocalypse. While the Mayans were known to prophesize, their prophecies were more likely to involve events like disease or drought and therefore many agree that these events would be more likely to occur than the end of the world. Interestingly, experts have not been able to agree upon the synchronization of our calendar with the Mayan calendar which means that the precise date of the thirteenth baktun is questionable and while it may actually be December 21st, there is a possibility it may have already occurred or may still lie ahead.
Preparedness is Always Recommended
There are many uncertainties surrounding December 21, 2012. This date could bring about anything from disease to an apocalyptic event to a solar flare that disrupts satellite communications. Or the day may pass without any unusual events at all. It is impossible to precisely predict the extent of a disaster, whether it is an impending winter storm, hurricane, or a prophesized apocalyptic event. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare for potential events far in advance. Review the blogs regarding emergency preparedness information, such as preparing an emergency supply kit. Even if nothing occurs on December 21, 2012, if you have practiced emergency preparedness, you will be adequately prepared for any emergency situation that might arise in the future.