Is it the end of the world?
2012 has arrived and if we are to go by Mayan predictions, this is the year that the world will come to an end – to be precise 11-and-a-half months from now, on 21 December.
This year I got many wishes reminding me of the impending doom and how one must look at the year ahead in that light. Towards the latter part of December 2011, the movie ‘2012’ (the 2009 American science fiction disaster film) was repeatedly shown on cable TV, probably adding to the trepidation of many who may wonder if these would indeed be the end of days.
Several thoughts come to my mind, first of which obviously is, did the Mayans get it wrong? There are many scientific arguments to support that theory, to be found on the Internet. Another question is if our present calendar is accurate. The Gregorian calendar, which we currently use, also known as the Christian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, is actually a reform of the Julian calendar, which existed before. The reform took place due to a dispute in the length of a year.
A significant feature of the Gregorian calendar was the introduction of a leap year, every four years; 2012 incidentally happens to be a leap year. Given these reforms, we can be sure that there have been many differences in the way we have calculated time over the years. Days and years may have vanished, over the reforms and this is not just something of the past, it still continues to happen.
For example, this year the Samoans wiped Friday, 30 December 2011, off their calendar on the midnight of Thursday 29 December. On the next day midnight they switched to 31 December, which brought the pacific island nation in line with its main trading partners, Australia and New Zealand, who had been a day ahead.
For over 100 years, visitors to Samoa have been able to stand at Cape Mulinu’u, the westernmost point of the planet and be the last people on earth to see the sun go down. But now that the small South Pacific Island has chosen to skip across the international dateline, it will become one of the first places on earth to see the sun rise.
The Samoa Prime Minister is reported to have said that the alignment with Australia and New Zealand could only benefit Samoa, allowing direct trade five days a week with the regional powerhouses, which are also home to a large expatriate Samoan community.
Greg Meredith, an Events Manager of a popular Samoan Beach Resort and Spa, has said that the change did not have any impact on his guests, since they were informed of it well in advance. He also said that none of the guests were charged for the Friday that was skipped.
Thanks to the internet and modern day communication, we know about this day being wiped out of the Samoan calendar. But as we go back into the mists of time, what do we know of these calculations and the days that have been dropped?
As for the end of the world, this is not the first time this cataclysmic event was predicted. The first was in 1978, when two Cambridge University, physics professors co-authored a book called ‘The Jupiter Effect’. They predicted that the world would end in March of 1982, due to all nine planets in our solar system getting on the same side during that time.
Their theory was that the resulting gravity, which would pull against the sun simultaneously, would cause massive sunspots that would send off huge clouds of protons and electrons deep into space. They said that when those clouds reached earth, it would cause the earth to rotate erratically, resulting in earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and avalanches, which would bring about its end.
Several years after, that there were the Y2K predictions and how the whole world was going to collapse on 1 January 2000. This too proved to be a false alarm and everyone became Y2K ready, with no earth-shattering event taking place.
And now there are the Mayans who predict our end at the end of this year. Anyone who is familiar with Bible scripture would have read that none would know the exact day or time of the return of the Lord; and that would include the university professors, the Y2K predictors and the Mayans.
Scripture only says that we can be certain of one thing – that for each of us the end would surely come and we need to be ready for the transition. Was anyone able to predict all the disasters or for that matter good things that have happened before hand, for e.g. world pandemics like H1N1, Vietnam, Twin Towers or the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war?
So why worry what the end of 2012 might bring? Predicting the end of the world has been a pastime of many prophets of doom, so let’s leave it to them. As for the rest of us, we have been given the beginning of another year, and life goes on.
(The writer, a PR consultant and head of Media360, was previously a mainstream journalist in print and electronic media. He also edits a new media website.)