BY EDITOR’S NEWS DESK STAFF
(STARpod.us) — Is the world about to come to an end?
Conspiracy-minded doomsday seekers and cultists would, so it seems, like to think it’s all over after Friday, December 21, 2012.
Perhaps it’s time to party like it’s 1999?
At their website, NASA proclaims, “The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.”
Doomsday predictions come and go, but the human race is still alive and — well, we are facing many potential extinction challenges looking into future.
In a lecture reproduced at Edge.org, Rees warns us, “21st century science will present new threats more diverse and more intractable than nuclear weapons did … some 21st century innovations or experiments, if they went wrong, could have global effects — we confront what some people call existential risks.”
During his TED talk, Rees told his audience, “If you represent the Earth’s lifetime by a single year, say from January when it was made to December, the 21st-century would be a quarter of a second in June — a tiny fraction of the year … let’s suppose some aliens had been watching our pale blue dot in the cosmos from afar, not just for 40 years, but for the entire 4.5 billion-year history of our Earth. What would they have seen? Over nearly all that immense time, Earth’s appearance would have changed very gradually. The only abrupt worldwide change would have been major asteroid impacts or volcanic super-eruptions. Apart from those brief traumas, nothing happens suddenly.”
But what about specific threats that have been discussed around the Internet?
Cosmic, galactic or planetary alignment?
NASA: “There are no planetary alignments in the next few decades and even if these alignments were to occur, their effects on the Earth would be negligible.”
Earth is impacted by a close encounter with a random, planetary or cosmic body moving through space?
NASA: “Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye.”
What about the threat from asteroids and meteors striking the Earth?
“The Earth has always been subject to impacts by comets and asteroids, although big hits are very rare. The last big impact was 65 million years ago, and that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Today NASA astronomers are carrying out a survey called the Spaceguard Survey to find any large near-Earth asteroids long before they hit.”
A sudden and catastrophic shift of the Earth’s poles?
NASA: “A reversal in the rotation of Earth is impossible. There are slow movements of the continents (for example Antarctica was near the equator hundreds of millions of years ago), but that is irrelevant to claims of reversal of the rotational poles.”
Is our modern high-tech society in danger from a massive solar flare?
NASA: “A: Solar activity has a regular cycle, with peaks approximately every 11 years. Near these activity peaks, solar flares can cause some interruption of satellite communications, although engineers are learning how to build electronics that are protected against most solar storms … Most importantly, however, even the biggest solar flares are not powerful enough to physically destroy Earth.”
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