By James J. Gormley
This whole Mayan prophecy hogwash reminds me of the Y2K panic around the world in 1999 before the clocks changed to 00, although the fears then at least had a technological basis. In the spirit of doomsday predictions that have and will come to naught, here is a shortened version of a commentary I wrote in Better Nutrition magazine in January 1999 that was entitled: “Y2K—Why to Worry?”
There’s a fever gripping the world about a big event with a tiny abbreviation: Y2K.
Also called the Year 2000, the Big One, the New Millennium, and a few other things, what’s getting people worked up is the upcoming tick of the world’s clocks, which will move from 11:59 pm (and 59 seconds), December 31, 1999 to 12:00 am (on the nose), 2000.
The world’s millennial anxiety seems to focus on two digits: “00.” Unless “fixed,” the world’s computers might not know if the “00″ digits refer to the year 1900 or to the year 2000. If software and embedded microchips aren’t able to recognize the date, they could generate “messed up” data, malfunction or crash.
According to a September 1998 meeting of the Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology headed by U.S. Representative Stephen Horn (R-Calif.): “The Year 2000 problem could result in a stunning array of technological failures.”
Then again, maybe not.
U.S. Y2K tsar, Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate’s Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem, is hardly panic-stricken: “In the United States, our major power systems will work. But there will be brownouts and distribution problems.”
What seems to be the best approach? Call me crazy, but having grown up in the Cold War, with vivid recollections of Air Raid drills, I look upon the fact that human civilization appears extremely likely to even make it to the dawn of a new age as cause for immense joy, not panic or anxiety.
That being said, stocking up on a week’s worth of bottled water and all-natural canned food (including soups) seems like a good idea in general. Some “survival” supplies wouldn’t be bad either.
Still, I personally expect that the biggest problem associated with the start of the year 2000 will be picking up confetti.
Y2K—why to worry!