Won't somebody please think of the children?
That's the message the U.S. government is pushing in a new blog post attempting to dispel rumors about the rapidly approaching end of the world.
"Unfortunately, these rumors have many people frightened, especially children," reads the post at USA.gov. "The world will not end on December 21, 2012, or any day in 2012."
David Morrison, a planetary astronomer and senior scientist for NASA, tells USA.gov that “at least a once a week I get a message from a young person -- as young as 11 -- who says they are ill and/or contemplating suicide because of the coming doomsday.”
According to the government, there is no impending Mayan calendar-predicted apocalypse that will take place this month (that theory has already been debunked), no comet ready to blast the world into oblivion (sorry Bruce Willis, NASA has been trying to beat this one back for a while), and no hidden planet sneaking up on Earth to screw up its polarity (NASA recently gave a detailed breakdown of this claim). The post also tamps down doomsday predictions more broadly, declaring that "many other" theories are also wrong.
The U.S. isn't the only nation that has had to directly address prophecies about the end of the world. The New York Times reported over the weekend on Russia's effort to keep people from getting too worked up over the panicked speculation:
Its minister of emergency situations said Friday that he had access to “methods of monitoring what is occurring on the planet Earth,” and that he could say with confidence that the world was not going to end in December. He acknowledged, however, that Russians were still vulnerable to “blizzards, ice storms, tornadoes, floods, trouble with transportation and food supply, breakdowns in heat, electricity and water supply.”
NASA handled the situation similarly last month, saying the planet was more at risk from the dangerous effects of climate change and human impact than it was of some apocalyptic event.
"The greatest threat to Earth in 2012, at the end of this year and in the future, is just from the human race itself," Mitzi Adams, a heliophysicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, told LiveScience.
Below, hotels fit for the end of the world, via trivago:
Le Meridien (Bora Bora, French Polynesia)" width="52" height="52"/>
Looking to escape it all in a bungalow with a view of heavenly turquoise waters? Le Méridien of Bora Bora, located on the island of the same name in the Pacific Ocean, offers just that. Recently renovated rooms provide all the comforts necessary for an idyllic island retreat. In the beach bungalows, reside in the solace of your own private stretch of land, enjoy an exotic cocktail and nap in the chorus of the gentle lapping waves. Nestled in such a paradise, visitors of Le Méridien are sure to forget that the world is coming to an end.
Be Tulum Hotel (Tulum, Mexico)" width="52" height="52"/>
Spend December 21 at the heart of the Mayan prophecy. Head to Mexico and dive into indulgence at the charming beach hotel, Be Tulum. Located directly at the foot of the archaeological site with the same name, the 22 rooms are simple and exquisite, each fitted with either a terrace overlooking the ocean or the property’s lush gardens. Enjoy a final night in the shade of Mayan temples and feel the mystery from its source.
Bellagio (Las Vegas, Nevada)" width="52" height="52"/>
How would you choose to squander your last hard-earned dollars? By heading to Las Vegas perhaps -- the glittering, gambling capital of the world? Here one can, without care for consequence, try their hand at the tables never before attempted. The timelessly chic Bellagio offers its own casino, so after a night of carousing like there's no tomorrow, visitors won't have to wander far to retire in big city bliss.
Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa (Whistler, Canada)" width="52" height="52"/>
Throw caution to the wind and spend your last days on earth conquering the slopes of Whistler Village, one of North America's most impressive ski destinations. For the adventurous traveler, the luxurious Hilton Resort and Spa offers a picturesque environment to soak up the fresh air with an endless selection of outdoor activities ranging from golf to mountain biking. End the day with a trip to the spa, a dip in the 80-degree pool or an indulgent massage for ultimate rejuvenation.
Rome Cavalieri (Rome, Italy)" width="52" height="52"/>
Spend your last moments in Italy's buzzing capital, alongside the most beautiful monuments of ancient Rome. Located in the city center, Rome Cavalieri is just two miles from the Vatican -- perfect for travelers looking to explore the sites of the city. The restaurant should not be missed -- as the only institution in the city awarded three Michelin stars, La Pergola offers customers a breathtaking view of the city and its 50,000-bottle cellar is sure to delight wine lovers.
Kruisherenhotel (Maastricht, Netherlands)" width="52" height="52"/>
The regal Kruisherenhotel of Maastricht, Netherlands is an ideal place to ground oneself before braving the apocalypse. A refined blend of 15th-century Gothic architecture and inventive modern touches, the former church has 60 individually decorated rooms and suites. Care of this stunning innovation was left to two big names in the industry -- designer Henk Vos and light artist Ingo Maurer. Don't miss a meal in the hotel's celebrated restaurant, located in the nave of the cathedral. Here you'll experience exquisite global cuisine under a surrealistic collection of floating magenta lights below antiquated stone ceilings.
Hotel Jalta (Prague, Czech Republic)" width="52" height="52"/>
Take cover in Hotel Jalta! This superb boutique hotel, an UNESCO World Heritage Center National Cultural Monument, comes complete with a basement that serves as a fallout shelter to offer protection from the alleged apocalypse. For those brave enough to venture out, the hotel lies just half a mile from the city center, inviting guests to leave their cleanly-designed rooms to discover Prague’s fairy-tale grandeur.
Hotel Edouard 7 (Paris, France)" width="52" height="52"/>
What better place than Paris to have that last romantic hurrah with that special someone? At the magnificent Hotel Edouard, you'll be nestled beside the city's most famous opera house, with the Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Royal Palace just a romantic jaunt away. After a day of culture, you'll be delighted to retire in one of the hotel's smartly decorated rooms, a suitable haven of seduction in which to spend one’s last cherished moments.
Hotel President Wilson (Geneva, Switzerland)" width="52" height="52"/>
Esteemed as one of largest and most lavish suites in the world, the Royal Penthouse in Hotel President Wilson has no less than 12 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms! Complete with billiards, a piano, a gym, a private elevator and terrace of 18,000 square feet overlooking the shores of Lake Geneva, this pristine hotel promises boundless bliss. We'd like to think so at this price.
La Chaumiere Hotel (Quillan, France)" width="52" height="52"/>
For avid explorers looking to achieve immortality and survive the consequence of the Mayan prophecy, need look no further than the luxurious La Chaumiere Hotel in southern France. According to legend, the Holy Grail was hidden in Cathar country around the hilltop village, Rennes-le-Château -- only 15 miles away from the stunning estate. Bright and spacious guestrooms offer a perfect way to relax after a day of digging for the religious vessel.