The World Will End December 21

How will you spend the Apocalypse?


THERE IS NO QUESTION that each person alive today will ultimately die. Death, along with taxes, are two promises life always keeps. And how and in what ways that harsh reality – the reality that we are not immortal – affects our daily lives and shapes our motivations is a weighty inquiry worthy of neuroscience, psychological, and general scientific exploration. But the looming question that cannot be answered by science alone, that is the question of exactly how and exactly when we will each meet our Maker, is haunting enough to inspire even the most bizarre doomsday predictions.

If you have not yet heard that the world will end this month, then come out from under your rock and sit down because you are in for a surprise. According to Armageddonites, the world will end on December 21, 2012. Most believers are short on the Apocalypse’s details, but there appears to have been no possibility left out: some maintain that Earth will collide with an unknown planet within our solar system called Nibiru; others predict that intergalactic alignment will cause Earth to be sucked into a black hole; others still claim that human society will end from hyperinflation, World War, oil shortages, or zombies. (The Zombie Apocalypse, as any who can see the countless many mindless wanderers glued to their smart phones knows, is already well underway.)

The genesis of most this nonsense is thanks to the ancient Mayans. The Mayan calendar includes a 5,125-year cycle known as the Long Count that apparently comes to a close on December 21. For many with a proclivity for mysticism, this means the end of time. For others more familiar with a reasonable state of mind, the close of the Mayan calendar marks simply the cycle’s restart (much in the same way that our own calendar restarts with January 1 after December 31).

There seems no limit to the frenzy of people who have succumbed to these and other ongoing doomsday prophecies. Indeed, so frantic is Russia’s population – a people with supernatural leanings – that on November 30, 2012, according to the New York Times, Russia’s Minister of Emergency Situations was forced to explain to the country that he had access to “methods of monitoring what is occurring on the planet Earth,” and that he confirmed the world was not going to end in December.

Closer to home, there are equally many Washington State residents who are preparing for the End. Washington Preppers is an association organized under the American Preppers Network. It is a collection of residents who are preparing for (hence the coinage “preppers”) the worst. The roll call includes residents from Seattle, Kirkland, Woodinville, Tacoma, Renton, Vancouver, Lacey, Skagit County, Olympia, Yakima, Kennewick, Mason County, Port Orchard, Walla Walla, Grays Harbor, and more from across the Pacific Northwest into British Columbia.

These dedicated preppers regularly attend “meet-ups” across the State. (The Bellevue “meet-up,” for example, usually takes place at the Tully’s in Lincoln Square.) During their meetings, Washington Preppers discuss and learn survival skills such as couponing, winter gardening, seed saving, canning, goat, sheep and beekeeping, freeze dried food storage, waste handling, alternative energy sources, and defense expertise. Online discussion groups are even abuzz with unsettling concerns over ammunition prices. (What good seeds will be inside a black hole is beyond me.)

In the real world, the Universe’s final chapter will not be written this month, nor will mankind’s. The world and human civilization will still be around on December 22. But part of me actually hopes the Mayans are correct and that our end is near. Think about this: it is generally agreed within credible scientific communities that modern humans have been around for about 50,000 years (if you consider things such as art as a necessary quality of “modern humans”).

The Universe, by contrast, has existed for close to 14 billion years. So, modern humans have existed for only the tiniest of a fraction relative to the age of the Universe. The chance, therefore, that the apocalypse would actually occur during the lifetime of anyone alive today is so incredibly small that it would offend the circumstances to pass on the chance to witness doomsday if it were presented. If you must exit the stage, then why not take your curtain call along with all other existence?

All this aside, the more important question I think to answer is not how and why will our world end, but rather, how and why does our world exist at all? Why is there something rather than nothing? (Read Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story for an excellent survey of this same inquiry.) The question of our existence is a far more important one, and one far more relevant to our lives, than the question of humanity’s comprehensive demise.


Trent Latta is an attorney and Kirkland resident. He can be contacted at TrentLatta@gmail.com

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Tom CF December 03, 2012 at 09:27 PM
"...for only the tinniest of a fraction"? I think our fraction is more irony than tinny.
Trent Latta December 03, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Thank you for the catch Tom. And your humor is very welcomed in these end times! Trent
Dan Cushing December 03, 2012 at 09:44 PM
check in with me on the 22nd - I'll have more info then Dan
Trent Latta December 03, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Thanks Dan. Though I'm not positive there will be a reliable internet connection on Nibiru. Trent
Greg Johnston (Editor) December 03, 2012 at 10:10 PM
The editor will take the fall for that one, completely missed it -- I guess the world is coming to an end!
Bob McCoy December 04, 2012 at 06:44 AM
Bummer! This is a major bummer for me. The Rapture was supposed to occur last year, and even though I knew this Mayan date (12/21/2012) was coming, I invited my friends to an End of the World cocktail party before the Rapture (which was postponed until October, 2011, and, apparently postponed indefinitely). Now, you tell me that this EotW may not happen, also? I am intrigued that we're apparently a month's distance from the event horizon of a black hole, but we haven't noticed that the black hole is there. Well, in any case, with a full two weeks from December 6 until the world ends, there's no reason that commitment-phobes in Washington can't marry the person of their choice, spark up, and go out in a loving, mellow, mood. (Yes, I know that would be an over-commitment for Kim Kardashian, but most can endure two weeks of marriage.)
Peter Duncan EHS '70 December 04, 2012 at 11:27 AM
"Bummer"? Wasn't that the old teen nightclub at 238th & Hwy 99?
Denny Croston December 04, 2012 at 03:12 PM
I just got back from Mexico and I did buy a hand maid Mayan calender. I showed it to my son and he said that was not very smart, the calender will be out dated in a month. Didn't think of that. HA HA
Pauline December 04, 2012 at 04:09 PM
"That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an airplane... Lenny Bruce is not afraid."
Bob December 04, 2012 at 04:32 PM
"What, me worry?
Al Butler December 04, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I am not worried. As a Bible believing Christian I await the return of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As the bible teaches us "no man knows the hour of the lords returning only the Father knows". So predict all you want. unless you predict his return for every day in the future you will be wrong. I just need to live my life with his help like he will be returning today every day.
Dave Matzen December 04, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Oh man, I have dinner reservations for next month.
Brent Champaco December 04, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Greg Johnston (Editor) December 04, 2012 at 09:36 PM
I'm going fishing on Dec. 20 -- to heck with the size restrictions and limit!
sally December 04, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Dude, lighten up!!
dexterjibs December 06, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Maybe I will run naked in Olympia and "moon" our worthless leaders.
Bob McCoy December 07, 2012 at 09:35 AM
That's probably why I'll be working on wildlife issues, Greg. While I know you're joking, it would be interesting to understand why people take more than they can consume, and believe that any exploitation of our wildlife trust is their right. For instance, while Al's god is vaporizing the planet, what, exactly would you do with those 400 minnows and 50 trout? Guess I better lighten up, too. In fact, I could light up and mellow out, I suppose. Except there's no Cheetos in the house.
Greg Johnston (Editor) December 07, 2012 at 04:16 PM
I know Bob, the poacher mentality is strange. My lame attempt at a joke came from my all-time favorite Gary Larson cartoon. Two guys are fishing in a boat on a lake, and on the horizon is a mushroom cloud. One says to the other: "Know what this means Ernie? S---- the limit and no size restrictions!" My other favorite shows two deer driving home from a hunting trip with a human on the grill.
Steven W December 07, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I had no idea that "couponing" was a survival skill? Although I suppose you can use them to start a fire with - but other than that, I dunno.... (well, I can think of one more use for pieces of paper, but it may not be printable!)
Trent Latta December 07, 2012 at 06:35 PM
That is too funny. Trent
Trent Latta December 07, 2012 at 06:41 PM
I suppose that if Earth collides with Nibiru, there is a chance, if only a fleeting one, that our respective planets' economies - humans' and Nibiruians' - will momentarily coincide. This is more probable if the planetary collision occurs in an extra-dimensional realm and not just the third dimensional physical world; I'm thinking here of a hybrid doomsday theory that includes being sucked into a black hole/wormhole space-time portal and planetary collision. I suppose, perhaps, in that moment coupons could be traded? But that really is crazy talk. Trent
Christie Anderson December 08, 2012 at 06:35 PM
How will I spend it?....I thought I'd go to an alpaca petting zoo.
T P December 08, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Loved the article and all the comments. ThXs. Now I got to go get a tree with the wife.
Simone Cannon December 09, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I agree with Sally...Al, get a sense of humor, this is meant to be funny.


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