There are approximately nine months left of the current cycle of the Mayan calendar before it ends and -- if you are a believer -- before the world ends as well.
The odds look good, however, that the world will survive this doomsday prophecy, much as it survived the Y2K fears of 1999, Harold Camping's two end-of-days predictions of 2011, and every end-of-world prediction in the last 2,000 years.
But Scott Hunt knows the believers well because they are his livelihood. He runs Practical Preppers, a South Carolina-based consulting company that sells doomsday gear and analyzes people's end-of-days plans to determine their effectiveness.
He's been doing it for 16 years and has seen his share of doomsdays come and go. So he tries to emphasize the importance of it from a "going green" or a "going off the grid" perspective.
"Only a small percentage of 'preppers' believe in 2012," Hunt explained to HuffPost Weird News, referring to the prophecy of total destruction. "Others see it as a green movement and others are preparing for an economic downturn."
Hunt also provides his end-of-the-world expertise on "Doomsday Preppers," a National Geographic TV show air Tuesdays that follows the efforts of various "preppers" as they try to get things in order before whatever impending disaster they're expecting... er, impends.
After watching a profile of a particular person, Hunt rates his or her plan and offers tips to make it better.
"We provide solutions so people aren't as fearful," he said.
When it comes to prepping, he added, there are plenty of newbie mistakes, especially surrounding food.
"I don't know what I'd do if I didn't pack Frank's Red Hot Sauce," he laughed. "But, seriously, you need to pack balanced diets including oils and, yes, condiments. Also, a lot of people who pack things like beans and pasta don't think about the amount of food and heat those foods need."
He singled out the plans of one prepper, Megan Hurwitt, a Houston 20-something who fears a worldwide oil crisis could throw her city and the world at large into chaos.
Her plan of survival has her "bugging out" -- the term preppers use for getting out of town -- by walking 30 miles to a hidden vehicle.
Hunt is not impressed.
"It's a death sentence," he said. "She wants to walk 30 miles across the inner city at night to get to her vehicle and then go to Mexico."
Hunt said her plan to go it alone goes against proper prepping.
"The key is networking with people you trust," he said.
Hurtwitt considers herself young and hip, so she is trying to mix her desire to be prepared with her desire to be fashionable. She has been looking for weapons that can be easily concealed even when she's wearing slinky tops and high heels.
But prepping also means being willing to sacrifice, and that means her cat, "Temper," won't be coming along for the ride.
"Unfortunately, cats are not as useful as dogs in survival situations," she lamented to the National Geographic production crew. "My boyfriend's plan for the kitty cats, if the s--- hits the fan, is to put a bullet through the skull."
"Sorry, Temper," she said on the show. "Right in the brain stem."
Guns seem to be a big thing with preppers -- as well as some questionable usage, Hunt said.
For instance, Hunt was shocked that Paul and Gloria Range, two preppers from Texas, were checking the strength of their survival shelter by shooting at it with 22-gauge long rifles.
"If someone comes at you with guns, they're probably going to have something with more power," he said.
Tim Ralston, a prepper in Scottsdale, Ariz., probably wishes he had used a gun with even less fire power when he filmed his "Doomsday Preppers" segment.
Ralston, the inventor of a folding shovel called the Crovel, was doing some target practice when his gun misfired while his hand was in front of the barrel.
He shot his thumb almost completely off his left hand, but thankfully his young son, who was standing close by, was not injured in the accident.
For a while, it looked like Ralston might lose his thumb, but he made a full recovery after surgeons reattached the top part of it.
Ralston isn't doing as much target practice these days, but he was happy to hear Hunt's recommendations, which included finishing up work on his retreat shelter.
"I try to keep an open mind," he said. "The guy who thinks he knows it all? That's the guy I'm afraid of."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to a "22-gauge shotgun." There is no such thing. It has been changed to long rifle.
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