There are many people out there that are latching on to the theory that the Earth is poised for magnetic pole shift in 2012. One of the reasons this has become such prevalent conspiracy theory fodder is the upcoming end of the Mayan calendar, which many believe will be the end of the world as we know it. But what is the scientific data behind the idea of a magnetic pole shift? Is it imminent? And what would be the consequences if this came to be sooner rather than later?
Let’s start with the reality here. The Earth does indeed seem to shift its magnetic poles from time to time. From time to time in Earth terms means millions of years. Many scientists today have hypothesized that the Earth experiences a magnetic pole shift on the average about every half a million years. What does that mean? It’s simple, really. The Earth’s magnetic pole reverses. So north would be south and south would be north and so on. The “North Pole” would be in Antarctica. That is the theory, and there is scientific evidence to back up the phenomenon.
The idea of the North Pole and South Pole is somewhat mythical to begin with. The North and South Poles are the northernmost and southernmost points on the Earth. This is often confused with the magnetic poles, but in reality, the magnetic pole of the Earth is where all of its magnetic fields mesh together. While it is not perfectly in line with the North Pole, it is close enough that most people consider them to be one and the same. However, the Earth’s magnetic fields are drifting all the time. Mind you, they drift very slowly and in small increments that take millions of years to amount to anything. But the Earth is not a solid magnet. A normal, everyday bar magnet loses its power, but the Earth’s magnetism has continued for billions of years, as far as we can tell. Albert Einstein declared the Earth’s magnetic field to be one of the most prominent unsolved mysteries of physics.
In the Atlantic Ocean, there is a crack where lava runs out from deep within the Earth’s surface. The lava turns into rock over time, and it sort of freezes that time period inside. Scientists are able to ascertain the magnetic polarity of the Earth by examining these rocks, but results are varied. Some scientists believe the Earth is due for a magnetic shift any time now according to these records, but others say that it doesn’t matter what happened because the Earth is ever-changing and its magnetic properties are not static. Meaning no one can predict when a magnetic pole shift will happen.
For those that believe a magnetic pole shift is imminent, think about this. Even the most enterprising scientists say that it could happen some time in the next 2,000 years. Now, wait a minute. We can toss out numbers like that all day long, but what does it really mean? Well, 2,000 years encompasses the entire time from the present day to the birth of Jesus Christ. And everything that happened in between. And even if it started tomorrow, the same scientists say that it would take between 100 and a few thousand years to reach fruition. Lot of room for error, there.
While it’s a passing fad for people to worry about a magnetic pole shift, the problem is there is no physical evidence to indicate we are any closer to one than we were 2,000 years ago, or 20,000 years ago. Remember, pole shifts come across millions of years, and the odds of us being in that year at any given time are remarkably low. The entire history of mankind on Earth is only a blink of the eye in the history of the planet.
Yes, if such a phenomenon did occur in our lifetimes, its effects would be staggering. You are literally talking about a world turned upside down. So much of our technology revolves around our knowledge of magnetism and the Earth’s current fields, and many things would cease to function. Species that migrate have learned where to go from millions of years of practice and evolution. A pole shift would leave them in danger, following their instincts only to find that they are suddenly wrong and ill-informed. The weather would change dramatically, unleashing entirely new disasters on unsuspecting regions.
And yet, the most likely result is that on December 22, 2012, we will all wake up and go about our daily routines as normal. And it could stay that way for thousands or even millions of years to come.
And then again, it could happen tomorrow.