There’s hundreds of volcanoes out there, but you probably haven’t heard of “supervolcanoes”—or at least, you didn’t know you had. Three such volcanoes exist in the United States (Yellowstone, Long Valley Caldera, and Valles Caldera), and three more exist around the world (Lake Toba, Indonesia; Taupo Volcano, New Zealand; and Aira Caldera, Japan).
A supervolcano is capable of producing a volcanic eruption thousands of times stronger than the biggest eruptions in history; generally held to be an area effect of over 240 cubic miles (or 1000 cubic kilometers). If just one of these supervolcanoes blew—take Yellowstone, for example—it could “emit 2000 millions of tons of sulphuric acid,” producing the same effect of a “nuclear winter,” and the associated dust and debris could block out the sun for “several years.”
2. Asteroid impact
The Mayans have always been renowned for their proficiency with astrology, and often their conclusions still stand up in modern times. Even outside of this apocalyptic year, scientists have calculated that the likelihood of an asteroid hitting Earth is 1/700,000 per lifetime, or actually quite high. Take that statistic and factor in that we’re all supposed to die this year, and it’s pretty frightening.
3. Solar storm
A solar flare is a sudden increase in the Sun’s brightness, resulting in higher temperatures upon it as well as its surrounding entities. A solar storm, meanwhile, is the same effect but on a much larger, more terrifying scale. In the Solar Storm of 1859, for instance, telegraph systems caught on fire from the flare—which was invisible to the naked eye. NASA has predicted the next solar flare to occur some time between 2012-2014, and naturally, it’s pretty unsettling that one could take place the very same year that the Mayan apocalypse is associated with.
4. Planetary alignment
It’s unclear what would really happen if all the planets in our solar system aligned, but most of the times in the past when any “celestial bodies” have aligned, it only involved the Sun, the Earth, the Moon, and or occasionally another planet; otherwise known as a “syzygy.” In many apocalyptic scenarios, however, an alignment of more than these usual suspects is cause for great concern. Such an occurrence would have catastrophic effects on our environment, and who knows whether there’d be steady sunlight or darkness until the whole thing blows over.
Image credit here.
5. Ice age
The apocalypse would probably go down much more similarly to 2012, not the world simply imploding.
Much of what the Mayans predicted would happen in the apocalypse has been exaggerated and mythicized. The Mayans didn’t specifically say that the world would end, but rather that there’d be “widespread disasters,” which would likely result in an ice age. Another ice age would inevitably forever alter civilization, society, and life on a whole. The world would be so changed that it’s likely it would be—at least symbolically—the “end of the world.”
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