Apocalypse redux: B.C. scientist forecasts end of world in 500 million years, not 2012

Never mind omens of the end-of-time in 2012, says a B.C. earth and ocean scientist: Let's just be nice to our neighbours. The Canadian Press has the story...

 Are you sweating over recent dire predictions that the end of the world is upon us?

Relax, because according to one expert, we have at least 500 million years to worry about the problem.

Colin Goldblatt is confidently making plans for late December, despite the fact the Mayan calendar runs out Dec. 21, 2012.

The calendar is the basis for the 2009 catastrophe movie 2012, which sees the Earth battered by solar storms, along with unprecedented volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

But Goldblatt, a professor at the University of Victoria's School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, believes science and not science fiction will reveal the real apocalyptic end to life and Earth.

His theory hinges on what scientists know about the atmosphere, geology and other planets to make a more accurate prediction.

"No, the end of the world is absolutely not near,'' he stated confidently in an interview. "We can actually say that it's not going to happen for another 500 million, or maybe a billion years.''

Goldblatt believes a "runaway greenhouse'' effect will be the true end to life on Earth.

He will present his theory, The Physics and Chemistry of the Apocalypse: Runaway Greenhouses, during a seminar at the University on Tuesday.

When the Earth was formed, the sun was about 30 per cent less bright than it was now and as it gets brighter, the Earth's atmosphere will become "optically thick,'' he said.

It means, Goldblatt said, that only the top of the atmosphere can radiate head out into space, while Earth's surface gets very hot.

"It's like turning the taps on in the bath, but putting the plug in. The bath will get so full it will overflow, and in the same way if we have an optically thick atmosphere, the surface will just keep getting hotter and hotter and hotter, until the entire ocean evaporates.

"That certainly won't be healthy for us,'' he added.

The heat, which would reach about 1,100 C, would be enough to do away with life on Earth, he said.

"Everything would be truly cooked.''

Goldblatt said scientists believe the same thing happened on the planet Venus about two to four billion years ago.

Of course, he said that wouldn't take into account nuclear war or massive asteroid impacts in the next half billion years that could cut short that prediction.

Last year, California preacher and doomsday prophet Harold Camping predicted the end of the world would be in May and when that deadline passed, he said Earth's obliteration would actually be in Oct 21, 2011.

While the Mayan calendar runs out Dec. 21 this year, experts on the Mayan culture have since disputed that the culture predicted the end of the world.
None of those predictions fazes Goldblatt.

"I'm happy to book a flight to go back and see my folks next Christmas,'' he chuckled.

"There are other things that we should worry about. We should worry about the effect we have the environment...We should worry about how we behave to our neighbours.''

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