By Mary Ann Pekara
Doomsday myths have propagated the world for centuries, and yet we’re still here.
With December 21, 2012 quickly approaching, preppers from near and far are busy preparing for the worst, and spending hundreds of thousands dollars doing it.
Halley's Comet: 1910
When astronomers discovered the Earth would pass through the tail of Halley’s comet that year, mass hysteria ensued thanks to tabloids.
Many thought a poisonous gas would penetrate the atmosphere and end the world. Entrepreneurs capitalized on the craze, selling products that would protect people from a gas that never materialized.
December 21, 1954
Housewife Dorothy Martin founded a cult known as the Seekers. She informed her followers aliens from another planet, Clarion, were sending her messages that indicated massive apocalyptic flooding would begin on December 21, 1954.
She and her cult followers gathered to await a spaceship to be “rescued” from the supposed cataclysmic danger. When nothing happened, she maintained the group had convinced the “God of Earth” to spare the planet, but the cult disbanded shortly after.
Nostradamus: July 1999
The 16th-century French astrologer and physician is well known for his predictions.
Many of them have been tied to historic events, but Nostradamus’ prediction that a “king of terror” would come from the sky and destroy the planet in July 1999 was false. Many believed he was referring to a meteor, but nothing happened at all.
Y2K: December 31, 1999/January 1, 2000
Many believed computers programmed with two-digit years rather than four would revert to 1900 rather than rolling over to 2000 at the start of the year.
While there was some panic (such as a CNN report of a milk shortage due to failing farm equipment), and even warnings of nuclear war as a result of the programming error, the hysteria didn’t reach the expected level.
Harold Camping is a famous for his failed doomsday predictions going back to 1978. In 2011 alone, he had two failed predictions: May 21, 2011 and October 21, 2011.
His May 2011 predictions drew a lot of media attention, thanks to billboards and mass advertising. He gained a large following of people, many of whom drained their life savings to prepare for the return of Christ. When his May prediction failed, he claimed his math was off and changed the date to October 2011, a date that was also uneventful.
December 21, 2012: Why it Won’t Be the End
There are many reasons why the world won’t end in just a few weeks. The Mayans believed the Earth runs in cycles. December 21, 2012 marks the end of a cycle, and a re-birth. As time renews, so does the world. Some say a breaking away of the continents will destroy the world this year, but scientists say any shift in continents will be subtle, and not drastic enough to end civilization.
Some say the galactic alignment that only occurs once every 26,000 years spells doom for our planet.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) experts say there’s nothing out of the ordinary about the alignment we’ll be entering. A planetary alignment occurs with every winter solstice, which happens on or around December 21st each year.
Others maintain a “planet X” is on its way to colliding with Earth and will cause mass destruction. NASA says there’s no object out there. Still others claim solar activity will end the world, but once again, NASA experts say solar flares are not following the typical 11-year cycle, and therefore aren’t expected to make any impact in 2012.
Rather than risking bankruptcy preparing for the end of the world, it is far wiser to prepare financially for personal disasters such as job loss and illness.