Back in 2011, the History Channel aired a two-hour documentary on the prophecies of Nostradamus and how they might relate to the apocalyptic fears surrounding December, 2012. It was part of a large heap of information, theories, warnings, enlightenment, and anxiety about that date.
I never put much stock in the supposed Mayan prophecy that 2012 would mark the end of the world or even the end of an era. We've all lived through these gloom-and-doom prophecies countless times? Some predicted May 5, 2000 as doomsday because the planets were in rough alignment. Then there was the hysteria over the millennium and Y2K. And of course various religious cults have named date after date when the world would surely end, all of which came and went without so much as a hiccup.
2012, as we now know, was no different. Certainly, the subject sold a lot of books, drew large audiences for talk radio, and counted up lots of hits on websites, but that's the most drama we got out of 2012. It came and went without a major shift on the planet. Didn't we all really know that deep down?
Those promoting the 2012 changes threw out a wide range of possibilities for what might happen - everything from a literal end of the world, to dramatic social, economic, political, and climatic upheaval, to a "spiritual awakening," which, of course, could mean almost anything.
And what was it based on? Primarily, it was based on an ancient Mayan "long count" calendar, carved on stone, which according to calculations ended on December 21, 2012 and marked the end of a 5,126-year era. Without a doubt, the ancient Mayans were remarkable mathematicians and astronomers, but why should we really have taken this "prophecy" seriously? First of all, it wasn't even a prophecy. It happened to be when their long count calendar ended. Why should that hold any significance for us?
The second reason proponents of this coming apocalypse said it was on its way is that in 2012 there was supposedly an alignment of sorts with the center of our galaxy. Because the Earth wobbles slowly as it rotates (once about every 26,000 years), the sun appeared to rise in alignment with the center of the Milky Way. Interesting, yes, but there seems to be no cosmological evidence of any kind that this would have an effect on our planet, physically, socially, or even spiritually.
The third reason touted is that the sun was scheduled to be at a "solar maximum" in that year, a time when sun spots and solar flares were very active. This kind of activity really can cause problems. Such activity can disable and damage satellites and can have a dramatic effect on the Earth's weather. The schedule was based on past patterns of such activity, but there were no dramatic, out of the ordinary effects in 2012.
Next page: Strained interpretations