MONDAY DECEMBER 24, 2012
pic: Tahunanui Beach, Nelson
We have made it through the Mayan end-of-world without so much as a passing mild clap of thunder.
No matter how many times we were told the stories as children, the morals have not been easy to absorb. Three in particular were The Boy who Cried Wolf, the Emperor's Clothes and Chicken Licken. Put those altogether and you have alarmism. The mighty Mayan Meltdown was one more nonevent in the list.
An online poll taken on 20 December indicated that 85% were sure the Mayan long count held no fears but 13% voted to believe or were undecided. That we are still here has not stopped Mayan long counters setting another apocalyptic date.
Now we are told the poor old Mayans weren't all that good at making predictions anyway. Besides, they forecast that their own culture would survive for thousands of years and they were wrong about that too. Furthermore the Mayan calendar is now said to have been notoriously tricky and a 26000 year calendar can be out by a few days. This means they could have meant Christmas Eve or 21 December next year or any date in any year.
Then again among other things, at excavation sites in Xultun in Guatemala researchers are said to have discovered walls of a room covered with numbers and images that confirm that the Mayans operated with numerous astronomical cycles including those of Mars, Venus and Mercury.
It seems also that those infinitely interpretable Mayans also tried to predict solar and lunar eclipses and were concerned with not necessarily the end of the world but a concept they called "end times" which is different and not at all scary. End times were about when to work hard in the fields and when to put your feet up and relax, which sounds eminently sensible.
Mayan writings have been deciphered and most texts can now be interpreted with few problems. There are several of them mentioning dates far beyond that of Dec. 21, 2012. Some dates in Mayan texts are said to be thousands or millions of years into the future ensuring that the world will exist with gods still present for a long Mayan calendar time-count to come.
So what other ‘end point’ is also not going to happen? How not will also the world end anytime soon? Let us count the ways. I suggest that what you will also not witness anytime soon will be rapidly rising sea-levels, worsening catastrophic climate change, glaciers advancing, poles melting, increases in earthquakes or volcanoes, jumps in frequency of storms, cyclones and hurricanes, and more droughts and floods than were occurring in Biblical times.
Neither is there probably any less oil than what was around then, nor numbers and varieties of creature species. Alarmism provides excitement and negative entertainment, profit for oil companies, media revenue and/or gains in scientific attention that earns funding. All threats of Armageddon-type disasters are probably baseless.
It is perhaps no accident that the Mayan prophecy was so close to Christmas Day, a day when some have been told that a saviour will one day return and take a selected few to a better place. This leads them to a list of rules for behaviour. Humans are curious, and human nature requires both variety and certainty in equal doses. We seek what both threatens and at the same time protects.
Awareness of identified threat gives prestige and validation to the elected ‘lookout’. Reassurance from the same person then wins gratitude.
Where before it was the Church, these days it is left to science to both warn then provide solutions, and the new donation box is called research funding.
Let us not worry about emissions by planes, cars towing caravans for long distances to get to camping grounds, boats and campfires. Let us drive SUVs into mountains and jetskis across the sea. It will all be well worth it. Just look at the delighted faces of any holidaying children. As we go into a brand new year it is another opportunity to regroup family energies and renew bonding between generations.
Let us go into 2013 with healthy scepticism about alarmism. Let us holiday away from the shrieking ratings-mad TV. We don’t need to be told what to think, buy and watch. People who can decide for themselves cannot be upset by what a bunch of Mayans said 5000 years ago, nor what a failed US ex-vice president and his supporters are telling us now.
As for the climate there is nothing to worry about and never was. Our children deserve to know this. Instead of filling their heads with grim warnings, by daily smiling at them we can give them the message that the world is a happy place. It is Christmas, a time for fun, friendships and family.
Thanks to our readers for their interest and support throughout the year. Please stay safe and enjoy the holiday season.
Team at Predictweather