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Is it really the end?

Experts debate feasibility of scenarios

Is our time on Earth coming to an end? According to the Mayans, it is. The question is do we believe this long-gone society, and, if so, how will we all die? It’s not a very family friendly question, but it is one we all must face as we mature. Will geology be our demise or will a plague end our lives? Will solar flares devour the planet or will our beloved technology overthrow us? So much of pop culture seems fascinated with these questions, yet it always has come out battered in an attractive way, with a cool new scar and big gun. So a more realistic approach must be taken.

As Earth’s demise nears, some people think they must do everything they can to prepare for the end of the world.

“The average human is afraid of the unknown. We fear tomorrow because we do not know what tomorrow will hold,” Dr. John Sanford, psychology instructor at Laramie County Community College, said. We never know what the future will hold whether it is the end of the world or the beginning of a new one. “We as humans create myths for the unknown,” Sanford said.

Humans always want an explanation for everything. For example, a hiccup could be cancer or a headache could be a brain tumor. We never want to think things through but just assume the worst.

“It is lazy thinking. That’s all it is. We never want to critically think things through,” Sanford said.

Geological events

There are geological and meteorological aspects to the end of the world as well. Humans do face physical threats such as tornados, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions or earthquakes, but for one event to be enough to erase the whole human race is impossible.

“Yes, very traumatic geological events happen to parts of the world, and it is devastating, but we always come back from it. We build when we are broken, and we adapt to the environment around us,” Trina Kilty, LCCC instructional designer for distributed learning and outreach, said. Humans learn how to adapt and how to grow with the world.

We use technology to track hurricanes or earthquakes, and although we will never be 100 percent accurate, we can get an estimate and prepare. “It would take the perfect storm, the perfect combination of things to erase the husman race, or an asteroid,” she said.

“Humans can do more harm to one another than the Earth will do to us,” Kilty said.

In Wyoming, we are focused on the super volcano theory in Yellowstone. “It is not a matter of if, but a matter of when,” Trent Morrell, geoscience instructor, said. “It will happen, but not in our lifetime, or our children’s, or our grandchildren’s, or our great-grandchildren’s. Not for decades upon decades, but it will happen.” With signs we can prepare, but without signs we must deal with what comes.

Superbug

We cannot always prepare for disease though, but again we have the technology to handle any sort of illnesses that may come our way. “It would take the perfect protein that would be so severe and so strong to wipe out the human race,” Dr. Ami Wangeline, biology instructor, said. “The flu was once very scary, and, now, because we have the technology and education, we can properly treat it. Anything that comes our way we can treat and handle.”

She called the end of the world theory ridiculous. “Things happen in this world that we just cannot prepare for. Even though we cannot say when, the end of the world will happen, but it is not something to obsess over,” Wangeline said. The world will end eventually, and when it does, there will be nothing any of us can do about it, except make sure you tell the people around you how much they mean to you.

Machine takeover

Could our dependence on our precious technology be our demise? As with the recent hurricane on the East Coast, the first instinct people have when a crisis occurs is to look for a way to access their technology. They may not be tweeting and Facebooking about it, but it is still a heavy addiction.

Anyone see “Wall-E?” Floaty chairs, here we come.

As LCCC art instructor Ron Medina pointed out, “Look at how people panic if they can’t tweet, Facebook, IM, email, text at a moment’s notice.”

Solar flares

Dr. Brian Uzpen, LCCC astronomy and physics instructor, does believe our technology can destroy us, but it is technology we have had for a while. “It can also be used to benefit humanity, nuclear power, cure diseases, etc.,” he said. Uzpen does believe some of our technology could be destroyed, however. Solar flares, a rapid releases of magnetic energy, could do much damage to our technology such as taking out our orbiting satellites. This is all the more reason to get off our butts and start learning how to survive without an iPhone.

Some believe the world will end; others don’t. Uzpen gave a scientific point of view in which the world will be swallowed by the sun eventually. But will it happen on Dec. 21, 2012, as the Mayans predicted?

Mayan calendar

Medina questioned the Mayan calendar by questioning our own society, “Are we so arrogant to think that a culture with that type of mathematical skill and knowledge would predestine an end to the world based on their calendar without some type of specific warning?” What proof does the calendar have behind it? However, Medina noted because their calendar was circular, perhaps that dead culture was environmentally conscious and was referring to the cycle starting over. So maybe it is not an end, but yet another rotation.