The end of the world has come often in recent years. Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping incorrectly predicted the end of the world, not once, but twice in 2011. Evangelist Pat Robertson once stated that the world would end on April 29, 2007. His late colleague Jerry Falwell said Jan. 1, 2000, would mark the apocalypse, then changed his prediction to 2006. All those doomsdays passed without incident. But the prediction that the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012, has deeper roots and has taken on a particular fascination within our culture. That’s because it is the date of the abrupt end of the Mayan calendar, which ran for 5,000 years.
Most people accept that Dec. 21 will be just like any other Friday and NASA disputes the idea that it will bring the end of the world, calling that date “the end of the Mayan long-count period but then—just as your calendar begins again on Jan. 1—another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar. “
Still, doomsday fever has hit around the globe. In Moscow, residents are paying the equivalent of nearly $1,000 to attend a two-day “doomsday party” in an underground bunker from the Cold War. One company in London has been offering a three-course themed meal served in an ark. All over, people are throwing end-of-the-world parties, crossing items off their bucket lists, and even arranging end-of-the-world hookups.
But while many are partying or engaging in promiscuous doomsday sex, some have been taking Dec. 21 a little more seriously than others. These “preppers” have spent the last few months, in some cases years, quietly constructing shelters and stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies.
A man in Phoenix keeps 1,000 fish in his swimming pool, which he says he plans to survive on if the worst comes. One couple says they have collected 25,000 rounds of ammunition and gathered enough food inside their gated-home to survive for 50 years. A California company has sold 50 survivor bunkers in the past three months alone. An estimated 3 million Americans have been actively preparing for the end of the world, and thousands of people believe that the world, as we know it, might actually end on Friday. Exclusive survival groups have formed for the most serious enthusiasts.
Robert Bast is one such individual. He runs Survive2012.com, which states of Dec. 21, “The consensus of opinion is that there will be a great change … a catastrophic event may have been predicted, and it might mean the end of the world, as we know it.”
In an email exchange with The Daily Beast, Bast explained that Dec. 21 is significant because it is “the end of the Long Count calendar of the ancient Maya. It ran for more than 5,000 years, and we don’t know why they chose Dec. 21 as the end date. The Spanish burned thousands of Mayan books (only four survived) that probably held clues, but really all we can do is speculate. And that is what has happened, speculations ranging from scientific possibilities to complete lunacy and fabrication. There are literally hundreds of guesses as to what might happen.” But he added that Friday is “worthy of being wary of—there will never be a prediction given to us by an ancient culture ever again.”
To be safe, Bast has secured a “safe spot” that is inland, 600 meters above sea level, and prepared with supplies of plenty of food and water.
Bast himself spent roughly $350,000 preparing for the end, but it does not have to be so expensive. “The vast majority of that was on a house and land, so not unusual and certainly not wasted,” he wrote. “Food and water are virtually free if you are going to use them anyway. My only real expenses have been things like first-aid kits, water-purification tablets, batteries, walkie talkies and the like. These are achievable by most people and good for any disaster.”
“If it is a dark comet, and you are in its path, then the sky would get very dark just before impact.”
And even if no civilization-altering events occur on Dec. 21, it will not have been money wasted. “2012 is a great excuse to prepare for the worst,” Bast says. “Any preparations you make will be good for future disasters that will likely occur (such as a killer flu pandemic).”
There’s no shame in being prepared. If one wants to be ready for the apocalypse or some other disaster, it seems stockpiling is key. “The priorities are of course food and water. Bulk bottled water is very cheap and lasts years. Likewise tinned food and dry staples are long-lasting. If they are foods that you eat as part of your regular diet, then stocking up won’t cost you an extra penny,” Bast explains.
And survivors needn’t go out and buy new houses, but if you are going to be riding out the apocalypse, Bast warns, “ideally you want somewhere high, inland, fertile, and away from people.”
But what is it we are waiting out exactly? What form will the end take? And what will cynical revelers see as their doomsday parties come crashing down around them? Bast says that what we see as the end begins will depend on what form the end takes. “If it is a dark comet, and you are in its path, then the sky would get very dark just before impact. If it is a massive solar storm, big enough to knock out power grids, then we would see auroras at latitudes never witnessed by the current generation.”
And auroras, Bast’s website warns, “can kill us.”
Even if there is a catastrophic event on Friday, there are sure to be some survivors, whether they are preppers safe in their bunkers, hungover revelers who happened to be at the right party at the right time, or tired lovers who chose a safe enough spot for their doomsday sex. But if you are lucky enough to wake up on the morning of Dec. 22, the world you see will be most changed and Bast has some advice for you: “The world will look the same, but lights will be off. Water won’t run in our homes, phones won’t work. Get somewhere remote before panic sets in, and keep clear of nuclear power plants—they could all suffer meltdown within a week.”