Over the course of my life, I’ve seen any number of doomsday predictions. The year 2000 was supposed to be a major disaster with the collapse of the world’s computing infrastructure leading to financial ruin, massive social collapse, starvation, plagues, etc. Various religious groups latched onto prophecies made either in their religious books or by others to proclaim that the world was coming to an end. Which it didn’t.
When it didn’t, which is what happens on a regular basis with end-of-the-world predictions, most people just shrugged and moved on. Others came up with new doomsday scenarios and times. Yes, any moment now, a big asteroid or comet was going to smack into the Earth and wipe everything out. Oh, wait, the Mayan’s calendar ends in 2012, which means the end of the world! They predicted it! There’s going to be massive supernova which will cause two suns to appear in the sky! Or it will be the supervolcano erupting! The Rapture will happen! Obviously that means the world will end in 2012! Because something will happen then to end the world!
The reality? Well, that’s not as exciting. The Mayan calendar does end a “long count” cycle in 2012. Which starts a new cycle. It’s not the end of the world, it’s simply the ending of one calendar cycle and the beginning of another. Meteors hit Earth every day, but ones big enough to wipe out most of the planet? Not very likely anytime soon. Yellowstone is a supervolcano (really), and eventually will erupt, but not anytime soon – as we figure “soon.” Betelgeuse is going to go supernova sometime, but it won’t be a “second sun.” It’ll be a very, very bright star, a little brighter than Venus. As to the “rapture?” Well, no one is really sure if there’s going to be one, and the same Bible that mentions it also says that you won’t know when it’s going to happen. If, that is, you’re one of the ones who are Christian, that is.
Doomsday scenarios, and the prediction of the imminent end of the world, have been around for centuries, and somehow the world keeps going right along. It doesn’t mean that any of those things couldn’t happen, in fact, some of them will. The “odds” approach certainty that Yellowstone will erupt, a large meteor or comet will strike earth, that Betelgeuse will go supernova, and so on – over the course of several million years. The odds of it happening in a specific year are very low. In a billion or two years, the Sun will start to expand to a red giant, basically vaporizing the planet, although it’ll be baked lifeless before that point. So yes, the world is going to end. Just don’t bet on 2012.
That isn’t to say that there might not be a point to the predictions. After all, one sure sign of an impending apocalypse has been seen: Duke Nukem Forever is being released. Oh lord, we’re doomed!