The end of the world is near ... sort of

By John Toth

It was predicted in Russia 100 years ago that the World would soon end. The anti-Christ was rumored to have been born in Novgorod, Russia.

The world survived, though, as it did many other times.

I decided to look up how various groups or individuals have predicted the end of the world. Why not? I have nothing else to do on a Tuesday night, when I usually write these columns.

I usually browse through the news sites looking for a subject I can easily exploit, but the topics were limited right after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Then I saw a blurb about this prediction in Russia and thought about taking off on how people lived a century ago. But that would have required way too much research, like going on several sites and piecing together a thread of events.

I did happen to glance at a page about life span. Apparently we’re doing pretty good these days.

A thousand years ago, a child born in 1000 A.D., on average, had a life expectancy of 24 years. One hundred years ago, a male child born in 1903 had a life expectancy of 49 years, while a female had a life expectancy of 51 years. Today it’s 76.2 for males and 81.1 for females.

Men kick off sooner for some reason, probably because of all the risky things we tend to do, and we hate going to the doctor. I’m generalizing, of course. We hate going to the doctor for the same reason we hate asking for directions. We just want to figure it out by ourselves.

That’s pretty interesting, but I really want to focus on end-of-the-world predictions.

Wait, the brains at Harvard have chimed in on why women live longer.

“Studying people who live 100 years and more leads Harvard researchers to conclude that menopause is a major determinant of the life spans of both women and men.”

Guys, there is no hope. Just get that bucket list ready. The end of the world, our individual world, is near. Well, nearer than the wife’s end of the world, anyway.

Some Roman end-of-the-world predictors in 634 B.C. let it be known that, according to their calculations, Rome would be destroyed within 120 years of its founding. They based the predictions on some mysterious eagles.

Eagles are a good way to predict how long a city would last, I guess. They must have known something about eagles that we have missed all this time. Maybe they were slightly off on this one, since Rome still stands.

Remember, kids, the historical content of this page is not meant to be copied and pasted into a term paper. We’re just having fun here. If you try it, though, I predict that the letter F may be just around the corner.
In 365, Bishop Hilary of Pointers announced that the whole world would end that year. It did not.
In 1600, Martin Luther, who was a German monk, Catholic priest and professor of theology, predicted that the end of the world would come no later than 1600. It did not come.

In 1688, mathematician John Napier announced that, according to his calculations, the end of the world would be that year. He must have misplaced a decimal point.

This list I found has way too many predictions to mention here.

Camille Flammarion, a French astronomer, predicted that the 1910 appearance of Haley’s Comet would “impregnate the atmosphere.” His words, not mine. Comet pills and anti-comet umbrellas were sold to protect people against toxic gases.

“The comet was also fertile ground for hoaxes. One that reached major newspapers claimed that the Sacred Followers, a supposed Oklahoma religious group, attempted to sacrifice a virgin to ward off the impending disaster, but were stopped by the police.”

Anyway, the world did not come to an end, and the virgin lived.

More recently, in late 1976 evangelist Pat Robertson predicted that the end of the world would come in 1982. It did not.

The world will end, though, eventually.

According to James Kasting, a geoscientist and professor at Penn State University, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will drop in 500 million years, making the earth uninhabitable.

I won’t be here for that, but there will be a lot more end-of-the-world predictions during my lifetime, and even more during my wife’s lifetime.