Ray Villard: "If history is any example, the next cosmic doomsday prediction is always right around the corner. The Mayan blowout was just the latest in many centuries of bad calls by prognosticators who have the audacity to think they can divine the End of Everything."
"let's look at just three cosmic events that might start another pop culture panic. Thankfully these aren't born out of mythology, psychics, and misinterpreted archeoastronomy. They are real events that will inevitably be embellished by the imaginations of modern day soothsayers."
The Comet of the Century: "Comet ISON is due to pass within 37 million miles of Earth in January 2014. I'm expecting to see all types of outrageous claims that the object's feeble gravity will yank on Earth to trigger volcanoes and earthquakes."
"soothsayers will quickly note that the comet will be at it brightest one month before Christmas 2013. "This comet, if it lives up to its billing, certainly could point to the glorious soon coming of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven!" predicts one religious website. The fact that the comet is anticipated to get as bright as the moon will only fuel religious and mystical speculation about its timing and significance as an omen."
Asteroid Apophis: "On April, Friday the 13th of 2029 Apophis will skim below the orbits of communication satellites and briefly be a naked-eye object scooting over the mid-Atlantic ocean." "The worst-case scenario is that the chances of it striking Earth on its return on April 13, 2036 will increase to 1 in 5,500."
"It packs enough kinetic energy to wipe out 10 million people with the power of 100,000 Hiroshima sized atomic bombs. Even in this worst case scenario a direct hit would not obliterate all life on the planet."
Planetary Grand Alignment: "Like clockwork so-called planetary grand alignments have taken place in 1962, 1982, and 2000. This does not mean that the planets line up like pearls on a string. But they sort of gang up on one side of the sun within an angle of roughly 10 to 30 degrees -- so the definition is a but mushy."
"Jupiter contains more mass than all the other planets combined, and yet it is still less than 1 percent of the sun's mass. Therefore Jupiter's influence on the sun is inconsequential."
I emphasized this last quote:
"What's ironic is that any casual surfing of the Internet shows that a lot of people are preoccupied with doom and gloom based on mythology, psychics, and patently flaky ideas. The real Earth-threats, such as global warming, seem to be too easily shrugged off as lacking solid scientific evidence. Go figure."
I guess what it ultimately boils down to is that people want to believe in a world about to be destroyed by asteroids, comets, and erratic orbits, but want not to believe in a world in danger from global warming. It seems silly to me to have a preference on how your planet will be destroyed. Take it as it is, and do something about it if you need to.
Then again, those are all things we'd be pretty helpless against. Maybe they're just lazy, and want the world to be destroyed in a way that doesn't require them to be responsible and overcome it. Figures.
Apophis' size estimate has been upgraded to 75% more mass, but as of Jan. 9, Apophis' impact risk in 2036 has been further reduced to a vanishingly small 1 in 7,143,000.