The End | Near or Not

In case you didn’t notice, the predicted end of the world on 19 Nov 2017 did not happen. I don’t expect it to happen any time soon. I don’t normally make bold predictions about anything. There was one exception in 1974 in the Nixon administration. I successfully predicted he would resign. I think I was lucky.

If you are a believer in the end times prophesies, you may scoff at my prediction. That’s ok. I will give 10 reasons why I think I’m right. Mine are based on science. Join me below the glowing solar firestorm of death and destruction for the reasons we can feel the end is NOT near.



Some Questions

Q1: Are there any immediate threats to Earth?
A1: None are known. Earth has existed for more than 4 billion years. Credible scientists around the world know of no threats posing an immediate end.

Q2: Why has it been popular to predict the end of the world?
A2: Most predictions originate from Abrahamic Religions. They can be associated with events like the Rapture, Great Tribulation, Last Judgment, the Second Coming of Christ, among others, described in those religions. Common to them is Eschatology. It is concerned with the final events of history, commonly referred to as the “end of the world” or “end times”. The Oxford English Dictionary defines eschatology as “the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind”.

Wikipedia has an entry listing at least 140 separate end times events. There is another listing of 7 future events. Jeane Dixon and Isaac Newton are entries on that list. One more list includes scientific predictions. None of the 12 scientific entries gives a specific date or year. Rather, these are based on probabilities from history of similar past events or of known natural trends. It includes supernovae, asteroid collisions, super-volcanoes, our Sun becoming a red-giant star, etc.

Q3: If 21 Dec 2012 was the end of the Mayan calendar, why didn’t the world end?
A3: Your kitchen wall calendar does not cease to exist after December 31. The Mayan calendar did not cease to exist on 21 Dec 2012. This date ended the Mayan long-count period. Another long-count period started at that time for the Mayan calendar. Records show the Mayans referred to future events in the next long count.

Q4: Can an alignment of planets cause disasters on Earth?
A4: There are no planetary alignments in the next few decades. Such alignments have nearly zero effect on Earth. Alignments do occur. Recent ones were in 1962, 1982 and 2000. Earth and Sun align each December with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. The Earth and Moon align with the Sun at each eclipse. Nothing happens except some visual effects.

Some might argue that hurricane Sandy’s storm surge was the direct result of an alignment. In a sense, it was. High tide from the Moon and timing of the storm combined to create a terrific problem. But, it wasn’t an alignment of planets that caused Sandy.

Q5: Is there a Nibiru, Planet X, or Eris that is approaching the Earth?
A5: There is no factual basis for the claims of Nibiru or Planet X. They were made up by people. If they were real and nearing Earth, they would have been tracked for at least the past decade by the robust astronomy community. By now they would be visible to the naked eye. Eris is real. It is a dwarf planet similar to Pluto and resides in the outer solar system. The nearest distance of Eris to Earth is about 4 billion miles. Our Moon is about 250,000 miles. Don’t lose any sleep over this one.

Nibiru was supposed to be headed toward Earth. It was predicted to strike Earth 23 Sep 2017 and rescheduled for 15 Oct. The latest was 19 Nov. The Nibiru story originated with Nancy Lieder of Wisconsin. She claims she was contacted by gray extraterrestrials called Zetas. They put a communications device in her brain. In 1995, she used the internet to spread her story. The story gained a lot of notice on Internet newsgroups as Comet Hale–Bopp neared in 1997. Hale-Bopp was a beautiful comet. But, no Zetas were known to visit. Perhaps there were some undocumented alien Zetas. By now, they may have all self-deported.

Lieder changed her story to include Planet X. Closest approach of X to Earth would occur on 27 May 2003. Earth’s rotation would stop for exactly 5.9 terrestrial days. Then, the poles would shift caused by magnetic attraction between the Earth’s core and the core of Planet X. Earth’s magnetic core would be disrupted and cause great shifts of the Earth’s crust. When nothing happened in 2003, the date was moved to the end of the long cycle in the ancient Mayan calendar in 2012.

Q6: Can Earth’s crust change and move as described in the stories and movies?
A6: Earth won’t suddenly stop rotating on its own. It has a massive amount of angular momentum. There are slow plate tectonic movements of the continents and crustal plates. Sometimes, there are strong earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis associated with them. These have nothing to do with claims of reversal of the rotational poles. Disaster websites claim a relationship between the rotation and the magnetic polarity. Magnetic reversals do take place every 200,000-300,000 years on average. They don’t appear to cause any harm to life on Earth.

Q7: Could Earth be hit by a meteor or an asteroid?
A7: The Earth has always been struck by these objects. Most of them are sand grain sized. Big ones are rare. Car-sized ones can be impressive as seen in Russia in 2013. The last big impact was 65 million years ago. It led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Amateur and professional astronomers are carrying out surveys to find any large near-Earth asteroids long before they hit. At this time, there are no threatening asteroids as large as the one that killed the dinosaurs.

This work is done openly with the discoveries posted every day on the NASA Near-Earth Object Program Office website, so you can see for yourself that nothing is predicted to hit in 2017. As of 20 Nov 2017, over 17,130 Near-Earth objects have been discovered. Some 885 of these NEOs are asteroids with a diameter of approximately 1 kilometer or larger.

The International Astronomical Union operates the Minor Planet Center through the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. On their site, they also keep  a running tally of the known near-Earth objects. Look on the right side of their page. You can also signup for an email list and receive the Daily Minor Planet newsletter each day detailing the latest finds.

In the news recently from NASA was the discovery on 19 Oct 2017 of an object said to be the first interstellar asteroid known to science. This NASA video explains it well.

Q8: How do NASA scientists feel about claims of the world ending soon?
A8: For any claims of disaster, where is the science or the evidence? There is none. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions.

Q9: What about giant solar storms?
A9: Solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CME) can cause some interruption of satellite and communications as well as spectacular auroral displays. Solar activity has a cycle with peaks about every 11 years. The next solar maximum cycle 25 occurs round 2025. There is no special risk associated with 2017. Severe electrical damage could occur from a huge CME. Scientists are always watching so we can be warned. They won’t end life as we know it.

Q10: Will global warming and climate change end the world?
A10: That will cause great changes throughout the Earth. But our planet will go on with or without us human beings. Life as we know it will not be the same. I don’t think one could say the world will end. Everyone should be doing what they can to avoid the threats to peace and stability to come.

In Summary

There really isn’t any scientific reason to be fearful of the world ending any time soon. I suggest you go ahead and make plans for next year. Who knows? It might turn out to be a great year for you. Try to live with a smaller carbon footprint. Be a good steward of the Earth. Argue for responsible actions by people, communities, and nations to adopt measures that reduce our negative impact on our home planet. At this time, there is no alternative place to live. Be nice to each other.

NASA | Bill Anders | Apollo 8 | Dec 1968

11 thoughts on “The End | Near or Not

  1. Excellent summation, thou scientist! On reading, I was instantly struck that the same theme was struck by one Garrison Keillor in his column this morning In an artist’s perspective, he offered this, in part:

    It’s a great country. Take a train sometime and see for yourself. We are not at war. The economy is worrisome but it always has been: Worry is what economists do for a living. Longevity is getting longer. People read books, more than ever. They still know the words to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” even the verse about building Him an altar in the evening dews and damps and the flaring lamps. So let us come before His Presence with thanksgiving and make a joyful noise — in other words, tell jokes. The air is polluted because so much of it has passed through saxophones. A Northern zoo has descriptions of the animals and a Southern zoo has recipes. The mathematician brought a bomb on the airplane because that decreased the chances of there being another one. There are thousands of them!

    It helps to get old so you gain some perspective on life. I was lucky to come along when open-heart surgery was available and there were blood thinners to reduce the risk of strokes. If I had been born in 1880, I’d be dead now. I did my best to die young like Keats and Scott Fitzgerald and Buddy Holly but common sense kicked in and, praise the Lord, I burned the smokes and poured the whiskey in the sink.

    The full column is HERE.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jim and Melanie!

    • Good thoughts from the sage. I agree about getting broader perspective as we get older.

      Our son would not find this funny. “The air is polluted because so much of it has passed through saxophones. ” He played jazz sax from jr hi through college. 🙂

      We wish you a thanksgiving with friends family and laughter. It is a reliable recipe.

      Thank you for stopping by. Peace.

  2. Bravo. Thank you for such a great summary. You know my theory about the rapture. It already happened. All the purely good people disappeared. We didn’t notice because there were so few of them. Who knows — it might happen again, to similar fanfare. In fact, it might happen regularly. That might be the fate of those we love who die.

    I plan to head into next year with a few plans and an open mind. xoxo

  3. What an interesting post Jim, a juxtaposition of so many stances, and all of them have passed through my mind at least once. There’s also the “disaster” attitude and sensationalism that derives from the potential “disastrous” phenomena, being inflicted by humans or not, as it struggles to foretell some form of “graspable” reality and foretelling of the future…

    The end, being near or not, seems to be a “human all too human” subject homo sapiens sapiens continually discuss, yet beneath scientific theories seem to lie the “irrational” natural world from whom one never hears a word. The “natural” world continues to obey forces which seek harmony only to be hampered by human overpopulation and destruction of the environment.

    I do hope humans find common ground during Thanksgiving day. Happy Thanksgiving to your family and may God bring peace to all.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Maria. As you know, science guides my thinking. I do find the’discussions’ interesting.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

  4. One of these days I may publish the post that I’ve written in my head several times. The title probably says it all: “Profits of Doom.”

    You can see the dynamic throughout our society, and it takes several forms. First, someone instills fear, and then, for a price, provides reassurance, comfort, and presumed protection. You’ve done a great job of outlining some of the fears. The most recent example I’ve come across is the California earthquake swarm. It’s interesting, and worthy of note, but what the British tabloids are doing with it is a perfect example of whomping up the masses.

    One threat that nags at me a bit is the possibility of the grid being taken out by an EMP. Well, and the spread of an assortment of diseases. But those are threats that could be dealt with rationally — if we were inclined toward rationality. I wonder about that from time to time.

    Anyway — you’ve written a great post that even someone who comes at these things from a faith perspective can read and appreciate. There are plenty of people in any number of faith communities who are no more happy than the scientists that religious beliefs have been twisted and perverted beyond all recognition, or that some of the most profitable “prophets” have made it their mission to pit science and faith against one another.

    In any event, thank goodness for good people. I hope you and Melanie, and all of the other good people in your circle have a great Thanksgiving!

    • We did have a fun thanksgiving. We joined our daughter at her home in a nearby town plus our other daughter who came from the east coast. The 7 grandkids from age 6 to almost 20 kept the place hopping. We are tired today.

      The prospect of a mass outage from an EMP and solar storm is real. Our grid system is old and needs to be modernized and hardened. If (when) it happens, there will be much chaos.

      Another threat is water shortage and climate change. Our military sees that as a high risk to national security. One example is the encroachment of higher sea level into Bangladesh. The displaced people are moving into nearby India in huge numbers. They are not welcome due to cultural, religious, and other differences. The farmers of Syria moved into urban settings from a failure of the agriculture system and drought. These situations bring power struggles and terrorism.

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