Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Dec 21: Not the end of the world

Authorities are seeking to quell fears of impending doom

Don't panic, it's only the end of the world - enjoy it with your pets.

British authorities have moved to quell fears an apocalypse could strike on December 21 following internet speculation sparked by the end of the Ancient Mayan calendar on that date.

Light-hearted responses to a hypothetical crisis also included installing a fire alarm and listening out for weather forecasts. They follow an official US government blog this week saying it was "just rumours" and insisting that "the world will not end on December 21, 2012, or any day in 2012".

The deadpan advice comes with less than two weeks to go until the date of the apocalypse, according to some interpretations of the Ancient Mayan calendar. What form annihilation will take remains the topic of hot speculation on the internet, with possible scenarios ranging from a Noah-like great flood to a rogue planet smashing into Earth.

The UK institutions confirmed they had the necessary capacity to deal with any unusual events that might occur and, with tongues firmly in cheeks, put forward some specific suggestions for survival.

A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: "Fit a smoke alarm on each level of your home, then at least you might stand a chance of knowing that the end of the world is nigh ahead of those who don't. If you survive the apocalypse you'll be alerted to a fire more quickly should one ever break out."

The AA advised: "Local radio is a good source of traffic and weather updates and for any warnings of an impending apocalypse. Should the announcer break such solemn news, try to remain focused on the road ahead and keep your hands on the wheel."

An RSPCA spokesman added: "Luckily for animals, they do not have the same fears of the future - or its imminent destruction - as us humans, so it is unlikely that our pets will be worrying about the end of the world. However, should the Mayans prove to be right, our message would be to spend whatever time you have left with your animals wisely. Take them for a long walk or give them a cuddle. Enjoy every second you have with them as if it was your last!"

However, one expert offered reassurance that the prediction was a misinterpretation of ancient artefacts. Professor Mark Van Stone, the author of 2012: Science And Prophecy Of The Ancient Maya, traces the start of the 2012 apocalypse prophecy back to 1904, when German scholars said a Mayan picture of a sky dragon pouring water from above proved they were predicting a great flood.

Prof Van Stone, who teaches art history at Southwestern College, California, said the speculation comes down to a few inscriptions that indicate the Ancient Mayan calendar has been counting down since 3114BC and will hit zero on December 21.

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