Apocalypse Now: Floods, Tornadoes, Locusts

"If you carefully look at events there are certain catastrophes," said Han. "But God is in control and it's not God's fault, it's our fault because we sinned against God."

What will the fire of the Apocalypse look like? "Whatever happens, God will be in charge of it," he said. "I don't see man blowing it up [either through nuclear destruction or global warming]."

"If you believe in the Bible or the Big Bang, everyone agrees about the end of the universe," said Han. "Eventually those who believe in the Big Bang say it dies of heat death and it's all purposeless. But the Christian perspective in there is meaning to life."

New Age circles agree that some sort of cataclysmic event will occur — perhaps as early as 2012, according to ancient Mayan astronomers, who developed the world's most accurate calendar.

Science writer Lawrence Joseph explores those predictions and other theories of cybernetics – the behavior of complex systems – in his 2007 book, "Apocalypse 2012."

He says science can explain why the Earth has experienced recent violent weather patterns. "When you go from one state to the next period, there is chaos in between," according to Joseph. "There are periods of transition and chaos and it's never a straight line."

Scientists can predict major changes on the Earth by looking at its relationship to the sun, which has behaved "in more startling ways" in the last century, and more dramatically in the last three or four years.

Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma were "one of the stormiest periods on earth, and one of the stormiest on the sun," said Joseph. "People are starting to understand the Earth's relation to the sun."

Solar climaxes occur in cycles and the next is expected in 2012, when some scientists predict its activity will be 30 to 50 times more intense than previous ones.

In the 1400s the sun spots disappeared, and a century of drought and global cooling ensued, according to Joseph. It triggered chaos, and the eventual collapse of empire in China. It's the "domino effect" of weather on civilization "that has me worried," he said.

"If things in the Middle East were previously unstable, all we need is something that causes starvation in a system that is already teetering over the edge," Joseph said.

Joseph acknowledges that all the answers don't lie with science, and people project emotional meaning to natural catastrophes when they are anxious. Indeed, Americans have much to worry about: political threats, a foundering economy and even high gas prices.

"There is a certain end of the empire anxiety," he said.

And when weather patterns change, even rational people get nervous.

"There are unchallenged, unspoken assumptions that the seasons come and go your whole life, until the seasons start to mix themselves up and records are broken," he said. "It's profoundly unsettling. But we've seen nothing yet."

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