Saturday, November 14, 2009

2012: Planet “X” vs. Procrastination

The world will come to an end on December 21, 2012, the last day of the Mayan calendar, with a cosmic smash-up between Earth and a mysterious planet known only as “X.” I know it’s true because I saw it in a Hollywood movie last night. Also because NASA has issued an official denial of its role in the cover-up.

Well, okay, not exactly. The end-of-the-world story is not true at all. And not just because December 21 just happens to be Humbug Day and “X” just happens to be the name of a forthcoming album by satirical Christmas band Bah & the Humbugs (a band that I just happen to be a member of). No, the end-of-the-world theory is wrong because people got the planet X prediction all wrong.

Planet X is not some mysterious planet in an invisible orbit that we are going to discover when our planet collides with it three years from now. The real “X” is what our planet is going to turn into after everything that takes place in 2012. It’s “X,” or unknown, because we’re just not in a position to foresee how that year is going to come out.

I see so many threads of change converging on or around the year 2012 that I’m prepared to say that everyone who thinks they know what that year is going to be like is wrong. There are some pretty wild predictions out there for 2012, coming from relatively conventional sources. Just a few examples: Arctic sea ice melts away completely (scientific study reported in National Geographic), “a rare celestial alignment creating forces that have not been experienced since last such alignment 25,625 years ago” (Gregg Braden, author of Fractal Time), the end of the Republican Party (Daily Kos, among others), the peak of world oil production (International Energy Agency, though whether it really predicted this depends on who is reading its 2007 report).

I’ve written about the changes in the role of knowledge and in interior lighting technology, two highly visible changes that I think are coming in 2012. At the same time, some of the predictions from less familiar sources must also be true, in magnitude if not in details. Putting together the convergence of all these predictions around the same time creates a scale of change we’ve never seen in any one year before. With that, I have a feeling that all the specific predictions we’re looking at are small stuff compared to the totality of what will happen.

And with that on the way, the possibility of the world coming to an end is not a completely bad way of looking at it. With so much uncertainty on the horizon, it takes away the value of the familiar cycle of planning and procrastination. You can’t plan for your encounter with “X” — not in any useful way. And if there is something you want to do, you may as well get started on it now. You don’t have to really believe in the story of planet X and 2012 to decide that procrastination no longer makes sense.