The World Is Not Coming To An End

The sun will set Dec. 21 and rise Dec. 22. Twain Newhart photo

We’ve all been on the receiving end of a question we simply were not prepared to answer. Here’s a doozy that recently caught me by complete surprise while sitting in traffic:

“Dad, is the world coming to an end on Dec. 21?”

Not knowing what to say, I responded like any other responsible parent, “Who told you that nonsense?”

If you have children, chances are you’ve already had this conversation, or it’s highly likely the subject will surface in the next few days. My suggestion is to be prepared, because kids are talking about it in schools and on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

My son went on to enlighten me: “NASA said we don’t have to worry, because there is no scientific proof that a large planet is headed toward Earth.”

I later learned that NASA posted, “Beyond 2012: Why the World Won’t End,” a Frequently Asked Questions page that describes why the world won’t end on Dec. 21.

“Contrary to some of the common beliefs out there, the claims behind

the end of the world quickly unravel when pinned down to the 2012 timeline,” NASA’s page states. “The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.”

I know there are millions of people who believe otherwise (and I’m sure I’ll hear from some of them), and as much as I respect someone else’s beliefs, my message to my son was pretty simple: “Don’t worry about it. Just keep living!”

Critics say the original “Doomsday” was predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened, it was moved to December 2012 and linked to the end of a cycle in the Mayan calendar: Dec. 21, the winter solstice.

After a brief moment of silence, my out-of-this-world conversation with my son continued.

“Dad, you do know that Britney Spears sings about the end of the world, right?” he asked, referring to the pop star’s 2011 hit, Till the World Ends. (In the video, Spears is surrounded by others attending an underground party in a sewer system while buildings are burning to ground as the world comes to an end.) “The music video starts with the words Dec. 21, 2012. She predicts the end of the world will happen.”

Those who believe in the infamous date have long said the world would experience unprecedented weather events leading up to Dec. 21 – floods and droughts – and a number of natural disasters – earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes. And while these disasters have happened for centuries, they said these life-threatening natural events would become increasingly more frequent and intense. Some point to Hurricane Sandy and the flooding in New York, and the deadly typhoon in the Philippines as recent examples of such life-threatening events.

Many are currently preparing their families for Doomsday. Should we be doing the same? I don’t have an answer for that, but if you’re a parent, I suggest you be prepared for the questions, because they’re probably coming.

“Do you believe, Dad?” my son asked.

“Do you?” I responded, still not knowing how to answer.

“Nah,” he said. “But at 11:55 p.m. on Dec. 20, I’m going to wake up, go outside and look into the sky for a massive asteroid, just in case.”

“I’ll join you, buddy, just in case.”

I’m sure others will as well … and then we can get on with our lives.

For a link to NASA’s FAQ Web page, go to: