Don't dis-may

Dates are important in IT - as the Y2K deadline proved. But, says Deiric McCann, millennium mayhem could be eclipsed by May...

Dates are important in IT - as the Y2K deadline proved. But, says Deiric McCann, millennium mayhem could be eclipsed by May madness

Only five months after you decided that it was safe to surface from the underground shelter in your mountain-top refuge, sell your 10 years' worth of survival rations and accept that Y2K was indeed a damp squib Y2K - The Sequel hoves into view.

On 5 May 2000 (between the late hours of 4 May and the early hours of 6 May, to be precise) Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and our Sun and moon will line up on one side of Earth, exerting what many doom-mongers suggest will be major stresses on our fragile planet Earth.

In 1963 Richard Kieninger first foretold of the 5 May 2000 cataclysm in his book The Ultimate Frontier and others such as Richard Noone - author of May 5 2000: The Ultimate Disaster - predict massive earthquakes, movement of the Polar ice caps, sea level rises of as much as 300 feet, winds gusting to up 2,000 miles per hour, earthquakes of Richter 13 or more, huge tidal waves, magnetic shift, and just about any other natural disaster you can imagine.

Scientists insist that there is evidence that this has happened to us before - remember those woolly mammoths found with fresh grass still clutched in their mouths? This type of earth change is what they believe happened to throw the world of the woolly mammoth into cataclysm and gave us our shot at ruling this planet.

The doom-mongers point to the many signs that the apocalypse is upon us. In many ways it's hard to ignore their evidence. There is an obvious worldwide increase in severe and unusual weather - we are having more hurricanes, storms, and severe weather than at any time in recorded history. There is an increase in the quantity, severity, and geographical spread of hurricane activity. In the US, the Pacific Northwest is experiencing weather that has never been observed there before.

Many scientific and research institutions have for years been collecting data that seems to support the notion that we are indeed heading towards something significant. For example, in the US the National Climactic Data Centre (a very serious and respected US Government-funded organisation) keeps a standing watch for what it refers to as "billion dollar weather disasters."

Every year it produces a report outlining weather disasters that fit into this mega-event category. You can see these reports on the Web.

They make interesting reading. Between 1980 and 1990 the centre listed seven such disasters. By 1995 it had listed 14 - double the number of significant disasters in half the time. In 1998 alone there were seven similarly huge disasters, the same number as there were in the ten years to 1990. In 1999 there were four. Those in 1999 were particularly spectacular in scale. Hurricane Floyd, for example, cost an estimated $6bn in damage and costs, and killed 77 people. So, there would seem to be some sound statistical grounds for the concern of the doomsayers.

There does seem to be evidence of a build-up of potentially deadly natural forces in advance of 5 May.

It is not all doom and gloom, however. US astronomers such as Frank E Reed, who manages an online astronomy and physics discussion forum, suggest that whilst the other planets in our solar system do exert some gravitational pull on Earth, their distance from us is such that this force is negligible. Their data shows that the main influences on our tides and weather are the Sun and the Moon. Similarly, they point out that as the other planets' orbits are tilted in different directions, the alignment will not be a completely straight line.

They describe the conjunction as more of a "loose grouping" than an alignment - somewhat diluting the predicted affects described by their theoretical opponents. Indeed, Frank E Reed has produced very impressive calculations that show that on 5 May the tidal acceleration from the alignment of these five planets will actually be 20,000 times smaller than that induced by the Moon twice daily.

But let's face it, if things go as disastrously as many of the doom-mongers say, then you'll likely be gone in a flash and therefore be beyond caring.

And if the disaster does come and you do survive then there are not likely to be too many people around to tell you "I told you so!" anyway.

Be prepared!

Survivalist Web site The Survival Centre ( proposes a four-point plan to survive the 5 May cataclysm. But hurry, you have less than a day to stock up.

1. Store provisions - stock up on enough food to last you through as many as ten years without crops (better hit the supermarket now!)

2. Store water - build a supply of water filters and fresh water. The recommendation is for three to six months' supply, at a rate of one gallon per person per day.

3. Get a medical kit together - you'll need more than a first-aid kit. Buy as extensive a medical kit as you can find and remember that there may not be any doctors about to assist you - so include books on handling medical emergencies.

4. Think about shelter - as your dwelling might be damaged or destroyed. The Survival Centre suggests that you may need an underground shelter but as there is hardly any time left you'd better start digging now.

Dates for your diary

If you know of any dangerous dates that readers should be aware of, e-mail them to us.

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