The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

December 6, 2012

U.S. insists world will not end this month

LOS ANGELES — Those of you who take everything that the U.S. government says and does with a large grain of salt, be afraid, be very afraid, because the government has now made it official that the world will not end this month.

In a blog post on its official portal, the U.S. government dismisses reports of the coming end of the world, predicted by the Mayan calendar this month.

“Scary Rumors about the World Ending in 2012 Are Just Rumors,” the government reassures its citizens and presumably the rest of the world as well, because in the Marshall McLuhanesque sense, we are indeed all in this together.

Reports of the imminent demise of the planet are based on the Mayan prophecy of the end of time when the current calendar expires. In some popular interpretations by doomsday adherents - fed in part by the usually reliable Hollywood blockbuster - the expiration signals the end of time, hence the destruction of the world. How the world will end is a little vague but a collision with a comet or a planet is among the favored exit strategies.

If that sounds vaguely familiar, it is. Destruction by comet is a favored trope seen when one of those heavenly ice balls fall toward Earth from the depths at the edge of the solar system. Destruction by planetary collision also has a long pedigree. In some circles, it is known as the Nibiru cataclysm, with Nibiru, an ancient Babylonian word, being the name of the offending planet.

NASA has recently reassured everyone that neither of those celestial catastrophes is in the immediate works. NASA released a video earlier this year explaining why the Mayan calendar doesn’t accurately predict the apocalypse. Common sense dictates that when one calendar runs out, you just flip the page and start a new cycle, which was likely the Mayan response.

“False rumors about the end of the world in 2012 have been commonplace on the Internet for some time. Many of these rumors involve the Mayan calendar ending in 2012 (it won’t), a comet causing catastrophic effects (definitely not), a hidden planet sneaking up and colliding with us (no and no), and many others,” the post on the U.S. government’s website notes.

“The world will not end on December 21, 2012, or any day in 2012,” it says definitively, begging the question of just how accurate most of the government’s predictions really are. While most people will accept the government reassurance, there are always some who will never agree. Just think back to the Y2K fears and the survivalist boom it spawned.

Still, with all of the things the government has to worry about, why would it even choose to get involved in this one?

“Unfortunately, these rumors have many people frightened, especially children,” the post states. “NASA has received thousands of letters concerned about the end of the world.”

“David Morrison, a planetary astronomer and senior scientist for NASA who answers questions from the public about astrobiology, says,” according to the post, “at least a once a week I get a message from a young person - as young as 11 - who says they are ill and/or contemplating suicide because of the coming doomsday.”

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