Congratulations! You are the end of a long line of humans who evolved from the murky swamps into the Facebook loving, Starbucks drinking people we are today. As the Mayans predicted so long ago, today, December 21st 2012 is the End of The World. I know what you’re probably wondering, but there are no flaming balls of fire or giant aliens taking over my hometown, what’s the deal? Well, as it turns out (not surprisingly) the media sort of messed up a few details, but don’t worry the end may not be as far off as you think.
It is true that December 21 marks the end of the 5,125-year Mayan Long Count calendar, the fifth time the cycle has completed. The fifth, as in there were four before this one and there will be a sixth starting on December 23. It isn’t the end of the world, not even close, it is simply the end of a cycle.
The Long Count calendar was a linear creation, and relates to the Mayan concept of world ages. According to tradition, there were three failed worlds before the fourth when humans were placed on the earth. It’s easy to see how scholars could have misinterpreted the end of the calendar, and with it the fourth world, as apocalyptic, but that’s not how the Mayans see it. For them it’s cause for a huge celebration, a time to rejoice that we’ve made it through an entire cycle.
So it’s not REALLY the end of the world, not in an existential or literal sense. But unless we start making some changes as a race, the end may not be that far away. Here are some facts for you to consider:
- At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.
- According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
- Based on enrollment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls.
- Less than 1% of Chinese cities have clean air.
- One in four mammals is at risk of extinction.
- Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
- Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.
- Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities
- Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
- 20 to 50 million metric tons of electronic waste are generated worldwide every year
- More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day.
- The human population on earth has grown more in the last 50 years than it did in the previous 4 million years.
- Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhea
- 1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity
- At least 50 million acres of rainforest are lost every year, totaling an area the size of England, Wales and Scotland combined.
- In 1998 $11 billion was spent on ice cream in Europe. Estimated additional costs to guarantee basic education to all was $6 billion and access to water and sanitation was $9 billion.*
I’m not trying to be a self-righteous prick and I’m not REALLY trying to make you all feel bad, well maybe I am a little. God knows I do precious little to help my fellow man except to give donations around Christmas. But this is the state of the world today and researching these facts honestly disgusted me. It seems to me as a layperson that unless sweeping and dramatic changes occur at all levels on most issues, then the true end of the world may not be as far away as we might think.