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As the winter solstice approaches on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, images spoofing "end-of-the-world" fears are popping up online.

Fretting over the so-called “end of the world” on Dec. 21 is now reaching a fever pitch, and while some are continuing to prepare just in case of a disaster, America’s space agency is doing its best to make sure there’s no panic.

“Dec. 21, 2012, won’t be the end of the world as we know, however, it will be another winter solstice,” NASA says with a hint of humor on a specially created webpage to answer frequently asked questions.

“Contrary to some of the common beliefs out there, the claims behind the end of the world quickly unravel when pinned down to the 2012 timeline.”

The first question on the NASA page asks if there are any threats to the Earth in 2012, noting that many sites on the Internet say the world will end this December.

The agency states outright: “The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.”

When asked how scientists at the space agency feel about the worried claims, NASA says: “For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence? There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012.”

Regarding the origin of the fears, NASA says, “The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 – hence the predicted doomsday date of Dec. 21, 2012.”

It labels Nibiru and other theories about wayward planets headed toward Earth “an Internet hoax.”

The space agency does address the concern about the “end” of ancient Mayan calendar, and explains: “Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after Dec. 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on Dec. 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then – just as your calendar begins again on Jan. 1 – another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.”

Some have been concerned about a “total blackout” of Earth on Dec. 23 to Dec. 25.

The space agency says, “Absolutely not. Neither NASA nor any other scientific organization is predicting such a blackout. The false reports on this issue claim that some sort of “alignment of the Universe” will cause a blackout. There is no such alignment. Some versions of this rumor cite an emergency preparedness message from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. This is simply a message encouraging people to be prepared for emergencies, recorded as part of a wider government preparedness campaign. It never mentions a blackout.”

NASA is being deluged with calls and letters from worried people all over the globe.

Agency spokesman Dwayne Brown told the Los Angeles Times that 200 to 300 people are contacting NASA every day to ask about the end of the world.

David Morrison, a NASA scientist who runs an “Ask an Astrobiologist” column for the space program, spoke at length with the Awl about the flood of mail.

“I don’t know why they write to NASA at all,” he said. “Probably because there’s nowhere else to write.”

A typical message begins with text such as: “Dear sir, I know you work for the government and cannot be trusted since Congress has passed a law making it illegal for anyone to tell the public about an incoming near-Earth object, but … ”

“I have become somewhat obsessed with it,” he told the Awl. “It’s the depths of their commitment that’s so amazing, that they will go to such mental contortions to try to think of a way to preserve their beliefs in spite of evidence to the contrary.”

Yet despite NASA’s best efforts, there remains some hysteria.

Argentina has reportedly closed its Uritorco mountain to the public, due to fears of a “mass spiritual suicide” there after an appeal on Facebook to that effect.

“It was a decision taken by consensus, to pre-empt any distortion of the Mayan prophecy,” Gustavo Sez, mayor of the nearby town of Capilla del Monte, told Agence France-Presse.

Some are cashing in on people’s fears.

Radio Free Europe reports that in the Siberian city of Tomsk, what began as a gag to offer end-of-the-world survival kits has since turned into a profitable business venture.

The $29 kits include a length of rope, bandage, a notepad, vodka, a can of fish, a bar of soap and several other “essentials.”

“People have been talking about the end of the world a lot lately, so we decided to joke about it,” Aleftina Popova, an employee at Marina Mendelson, the wedding agency offering the kits, says. “We came up with this kit to show people how to laugh about such things.”

As WND previously reported, the 2012 doomsday scenario is not just a Mayan calendar issue, as many cultures worldwide have predicted an end-time scenario this year.

Author Tom Horn has written books such as “Apollyon Rising 2012″ and “Petrus Romanus” to document the theories, and he specifically talked about fears of “the end” in a lecture in Branson, Mo., in July.

A video clip of his presentation is here:

He reminds everyone that none of the ancient calendars actually predict the “end of the world.”

“That is a new age phenomenon,” Horn told WND. “What several of them forecast is the dawn of a new age starting in 2012 during a time of trial that ultimately will give birth to an enlightened form of man.”

Tom Horn’s “Apollyon Rising 2012″ and “Petrus Romanus” are both available in WND’s Superstore.

Horn says a magazine reporter was surprised to find out Horn himself was making no personal plans at all besides what he’s always done.

“I am a prepper and grew up in a home where we never counted on the government or neighbors to save us in a crises,” he said. “We always had a back-up plan – food, water, gear, and weapons to protect it if necessary. So on Dec. 21 I’ll go to bed that evening having faith in God and knowing that I’ve already taken steps to survive whatever may come, both spiritually and physically.”

Horn concluded: “As for the future, I fear for the stability of our country and worry over things like foreign policy, especially regarding Israel. To be blunt, we have the most inept executive leadership in the history of this country in my opinion and many Americans seem to be blind to what is going on. As for the end times, I challenge anybody to show me any part of prophecy that is not unfolding rapid fire.”

Does it feel like the world is coming to an end?

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