The last few years have seen a real spike in end-of-the-world conspiracy theories.  Why?  More asteroids, more flares, more earthquakes?  No, just more Internet to talk about them, which gives bored news media something to talk about and bored science sites more news media to debunk.

At least one end-of-the-world scenario for 2012 has been eliminated already - like the Christmas shopping season, people are pushing debunking the apocalypse farther and farther back and science is already eliminating 2012 apocalypses before 2011 is even over.  Sheesh.  When will we learn to just enjoy the anticipation?

Solar activity is ramping up in its regular, predictable 11-year cycle and a kernel of data is all conspiracy theorists really need - that, and a willingness to make silly correlations.  Hey, I do it too, for fun - I got tired of reading how video games led to unemployment so I correlated the Arab Spring to the price of steel and was able to contend the Mid-East was rioting for cheaper metal.  You can do that when you use the same method conspiracy people use and match two curves you like and control for nothing outside.

There are two reasons I won't be worrying: First, this same solar cycle has been happening since ... well, forever...and the real solar maximum likely won't happen until 2014, not 2012.  The good news is that when December 21, 2012 fades without a whisper, doom-and-gloomers will still have 2013 and 2014 to worry about. Second; it takes a lot of energy to destroy the planet from 91-93 million miles away and solar flares don't produce anywhere near enough.
That's not to say solar flares won't be annoying.  What if you get lost in an Apple orchard and need to call 9-1-1?  Like a hurricane, working around nasty space weather due to coronal mass ejections (CMEs) should be in your action plan. But we won't be living in a solar flare so you should be fine.

And if you survived October 28, 2003, you will survive 2012.  Well, space weather won't kill you.  That was the most powerful solar flare ever measured and not a single doomsday pundit predicted it.

end of the world october 28,2003 - the most powerful solar flare ever measure
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft captured this solar flare Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2003, the most powerful flare ever measured. No doomsday theorists were disappointed in the making of this photograph because they did not predict it until after it happened. Credit: NASA/SOHO

Science is not saying we won't be ruined, astronomers are just saying it won't be a solar flare in 2012, just like it wasn't an asteroid this year.  Or a comet.  Or numerology. Or the Norse calendar.  It hasn't been a good year for doomsday predictions. It could still be Mayans emerging from a black hole created by the LHC wielding strangelet-powered weapons, in a universe of string theory anything is possible.  But in such a universe it is also possible I will wake up tomorrow and be The Pope, or at least open my closet and get transported to Narnia.