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By Climatologists Cliff Harris and Randy Mann

Article published on May 15, 2012

Many subscribers and students have been asking us about the possibility of cataclysmic events in 2012. There have already been a number of television documentaries describing the "potential doom" later this year. Believe it or not, an amazing 1 in 7 people believe the world will be coming to end. Cliff and I are one of the "6" who are making plans for 2013.

According to some scientists, on December 21, 2012, the Earth may be facing major changes that could lead to potentially disastrous events.

On that date, the long-term Mayan Calendar will expire. The Mayans were an ancient civilization of people that ruled from the 6th to the 9th Century in Central America. They were ‘obsessed’ with time-keeping and created very accurate calendars. Without the benefits of modern technology, they were able to use lunar and solar cycles to predict eclipses thousands of years into the future.

The Mayan Calendar began, according to scientists, on August 11, 3114 B.C., and is set to expire or reset on December 21, 2012. Each solar year, the Mayan Calendar has been off by only 7 seconds. Therefore, when one does the math, it takes over 5,000 years for their calendar to reset. To put this into perspective, our calendar is off by a quarter-of-a-day (approximately 6 hours) each year. Every 4 years, we add an extra day (leap year) to essentially reset our own calendar. Therefore, our calendar expires every 4 years compared to over 5,000 years for the Mayan Calendar.

The Mayan civilization had numerous books about their culture and astrological data. However, the Spanish conquered the Mayans and destroyed most of their writings. Only 4 books were saved and they contained information about the calendar and its expiration. According to some scientists, the Mayans never stated that conditions may be dire toward the end of this year. There is nothing specific in their writings and calendars to predict catastrophic events on December 21, 2012.

In fact, archaeologists found paintings on the walls of a site in Guatemala that include calculations relating to the Mayan calendar. Those numbers, they believe, project 7,000 years into the future with no hint that the calendar actually ends on December 21, 2012.

There are other astrological events that are also expected to occur on December 21, 2012. On that date, the sun, the Earth and the center of the Milky Way Galaxy are supposed to "line up." This event happens every 25,800 years. Some scientists say that the gravitational pull from this event will trigger earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other cataclysmic events, possibly even a total magnetic "pole shift."

A total magnetic pole shift occurs when magnetic north near the North Pole becomes magnetic south and vice-versa. There is evidence of this occurring in Earth’s past, but the process of this shift usually takes thousands of years. However, we are currently seeing a larger than normal movement of magnetic north. Within the last year, the area of magnetic north has moved approximately 40 miles compared to an average of 3 miles per year. Airports have been forced to readjust their instruments to compensate the small magnetic shift. Some birds have flown into buildings or into the ground after losing their magnetic compasses.

Many of us have heard about the solar cycles from "maxima" to "minima." Recently, solar storms have been minimal, but our sun is currently heading toward a new "maxima" cycle that is expected to peak around December of 2012 or early in 2013. Every 11 years, the sun goes through these cycles, almost on a regular basis. But, there were periods in history when the sun went off its cycle and there were few, if any, sunspots. This occurred from 1645 to 1715, which is called the ‘Maunder Minimum.’

Many scientists are predicting that the upcoming solar maxima will be very strong. Over the next year, major solar flares ejected from the sun may play havoc with orbiting satellites and even power plants. The last strong solar maxima was in the late 1990s when the Earth’s temperature peaked. We’ve already seen several moderate flares ejected from the sun.

The Earth’s magnetic field protects us from the harmful radiation the sun emits. Most solar flares are harmless and will put on a light show when they come into contact with our magnetic field called the Aurora Borealis or "The Northern Lights." But, there was a very strong solar flare that literally shut down the Hydro-Quebec Power Plant in Canada on March 13, 1989. The solar storm was so intense that the Northern Lights could be seen as far south as Florida and Cuba. Some people thought that a nuclear strike was in progress.

Another solar flare of that size, or even stronger, could disrupt GPS, television, cell phones and other devices dependent on satellites. Some electrical exports have said that our nation’s power grids are "fragile" and could easily be damaged or shut down by another major solar storm.

The Mayans were not the only culture to look into the future. The Hopi Indian Tribe also believes that the Earth will be in a transition period around late 2012. They believed that the Earth has been created and destroyed 4 times and that now we’re in a transition phase into the ‘5th world.’

Of course, the most famous fortune teller of all-time was Nostradamus. He lived during the 1500s and published a number of predictions, or ‘quatrains,’ that described future events. Most academic scholars maintain that his predictions provide no evidence or are even misinterpreted. Nostradamus describes many cataclysmic events, but never specifically mentioned 2012.

There are a number of websites dedicated to the 2012 phenomenon. We will obviously be hearing more about these predictions as the date gets closer. Since the media made such a big deal about the apocalypse forecasts, we’ll likely see tremendous media hype in the months preceding December 21, 2012.

But, keep this in mind. We’ve all heard stories and predictions about the "end of days" for years and we’re still here. This does not mean that something won’t happen, but we’re already making vacation plans for 2013. Our suggestion, "don’t worry about it."