The new blockbuster movie 2012 is exciting and fun … but is it based on anything close to reality?
Could our planet Earth go through changes so fundamental that crustal plates shift and buckle, widespread earthquakes shake and multiple volcanoes explode? NASA says don’t worry about it.
But don’t rule it out, according to some theories.
Thanks to Sony Pictures and director Roland Emmerich, moviegoers get a look at what global geological catastrophe might look like. The movie portrays the disaster as occurring according to some interpretations of the Mayan “Long Count” calendar – in December of 2012.
But several kinds of calamities could strike Earth at anytime, according to some views. These include meteor strikes, man-made nuclear or biological death and destruction, sun-related anomalies, gamma-ray bursts from space or increasingly rapid global climate change.
One view proposes that “Planet X,” an alleged possible “dark star” or “dwarf sun,” could enter our solar system and affect Earth. According to these views, Planet X has an elliptical orbit that is quite different from other planets in our solar system. However, every so many thousands of years it enters our neighborhood of the Milky Way galaxy, causing massive destruction on Earth.
When John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson and the rest of the cast of 2012 face impending doom, they and the rest of Earth’s inhabitants experience sudden changes in the Earth’s core and crust.
Apart from Hollywood hype, there are actually theories out there that propose a pattern of periodic upheavals in our planet’s hard outer layer. No, not the slow “plate tectonics” theories we learned about in school. These other views consider the possibility of sudden global shifts of the Earth’s harder outer layer – the whole Earth’s crust shifting and sliding on the semi-liquid inner layers of our planet.
These scenarios have happened in the past and will happen in the future, say some “crustal pole shift” thinkers. They cite research indicating that such an event has happened in recorded human history. It could have even been related to the flood stories in many cultures, including the “Noah’s Ark” story.
But what is the evidence of something like this happening in the past?
One indication, it is said, is an ancient map, the so-called “Piri Re’is” map. It shows the coastline and geographical features of the continent of Antarctica, apparently from a time when it was not covered with ice. The significance of this is that many of the details of the coastline and the topography of the continent were unknown until the U.S. military used ice-penetrating radar during flyovers of Antarctica in the early 1960s.
The information from these flyovers reportedly closely matched the ancient Piri Re’is map, leading some researchers to theorize that there was a time in ancient human history when Antarctica was not covered with ice, and may not have been at Earth’s South Pole.
According to this idea, the continent of Antarctica may be been located at a different latitude, in a more temperate part of the world, before the Earth’s crust shifted the continent to the South Pole where it became covered in ice.
If Earth’s crust suddenly shifted long ago, the old ice-covered poles would have quickly melted, causing floods. The new pole areas, perhaps previously warm and green, quickly froze over.
As noted, one idea for the cause of a global crustal shift is an external gravitational force, such as “Planet X.” Another view is that it is just a periodic phenomena that happens every so many thousands of years.
This hypothesis proposes that as Earth revolves around the Sun over the centuries, the planet gradually tips slightly on its axis. This tipping continues for thousands of years and at some point, the crust slips or shifts in a big way, causing earthquakes, volcanic activity and tsunamis, as well as changing the location of continents in relation to the previously-existing equator and poles.
END OF TIME
These theories may or may not have any validity. The idea of “the end of time” or some kind of apocalypse is something that has been around in many generations. It hasn’t happened yet. Of course, that doesn’t mean it won’t.
The current problems of global climate change, overpopulation, advances in technology related to bio-warfare and other human-caused dangers seem to be growing.
Potential natural disasters like the Yellowstone “super volcano” are also a threat that could have global consequences.
But the concept of “the end of time” could also have other meanings – not a time of destruction, but one of transformation. Discoveries in modern physics seem to indicate that we are now learning that space and time are not what we generally think them to be. Time can be altered and experienced in various ways.
It could be that human consciousness might change in ways that are consistent with a change in our perception of, and the realities of time and space. Maybe this might happen in 2012 – or next week. Maybe it is already happening as more people learn about leading-edge and emerging views in physics, psychology and other arts and sciences.
2012 director Emmerich’s previous films such as Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow explored other kinds of global challenges.
In Independence Day, when unfriendly extraterrestrial aliens arrived in huge UFOs (actually they were not “unidentified” for long), humanity faced a serious threat. Is this scenario simply fiction or could such a development occur – or already be occurring?
The Day After Tomorrow put forth the concept that global climate change could alter planetary jet streams and cause sudden and severe cooling of the Earth, instead of warming. We have had various ice ages over the history of this planet. Could we experience another?
According to published reports, Emmerich has said that a TV series is planned based on the movie 2012. In the series, a group of survivors carry on in 2013. Such a TV series seems like a rich platform to explore many possible scenarios about how we might handle various kinds of catastrophes.
This may be a very good idea because despite the assurances from government agencies, scientists, scholars and others, it is usually wise to be prepared for known, suspected and unforeseen dangers and threats.
It might also be useful to believe that ideas like “the end of time” could relate to a new dawn, a new beginning for the human race and planet Earth – filled with peace, progress, prosperity, beauty, discovery and enlightenment.