• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Swedes unfazed by looming 'apocalypse'

20 Dec 2012, 16:48

Published: 20 Dec 2012 16:48 GMT+01:00

A post published on Thursday on the crisis information website run by Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency (Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap, MSB) strikes a reassuring tone.

"No high alert ahead of the end of the world," it proclaims.

"At the moment, we cannot see anything taking place on December 20th to indicate that panic will break out ahead of the end of the world.

"But if many people start to worry, we're at the ready 24/7."

While the words seem soothing, the agency nevertheless could leave an anxious visitor with a lingering niggle of doubt.

"Is the world going to end on December 21st, 2012? The answer is simple: We have no idea."

CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT STOCKHOLMERS PLAN FOR THEIR LAST DAY ON EARTH

In other words, even Sweden disaster response authorities seem to admit that the apocalypse predicted by the Mayan calendar may indeed take place.

Luckily, I'm ready, even if most other Swedes may not be.

The air is stale here. It smells and tastes like dust. There is moss on the walls and water is dripping from the ceiling.

I am underneath the streets of Södermalm, in Katarinagaraget, part of a big network of tunnels stretching out across Stockholm.

Today, it houses hundreds of cars rather than people hunkered down to survive a catastrophe.

Like the Metro in Moscow, this is the place to be in the event of a nuclear war. And while the Mayan calendar doesn't seem to mention anything specific about nuclear weapons, this feels like a good place to shelter.

The idea was, in the event of an atomic blast near Stockholm, that this shelter's 5-tonne security doors would slam shut, keeping the radiation out and the people inside the tunnels safe.

Apparently, 20,000 people can survive down here.

If they have food.

If they have water.

And I'm here, because the world is supposed to end tomorrow. That is if you believe the hype on the web.

But apparently, not many Swedes do, as I don't see anyone else scrambling to grab a spot next to me in this cavernous underground bunker.

From what I've been told, the Mayan calendar ends tomorrow. There is nothing after December 21st.

Literally nothing.

Some people out there are convinced the Mayans have got the right end of the stick and Friday really is the end of the world. Newspapers and social media sites are filled with stories about people getting ready for one final big bang, thinking the apocalypse is imminent.

According to The Guardian, the fear of the apocalypse has Russia firmly in its grip, with people stockpiling matches, candles, salt, and flashlights while they await the end of the world.

They exchange survival tips online, preparing for the clock to strike apocalypse-nowish.

But Swedes do not care.

“No one has called to ask if the world is really coming to an end. Most people that have been in contact with us have basically asked how to stay safe,” Civil Contingencies Agency spokesman Erik Löfgren tells The Local.

At least one caller, however, (that would be me, cowering underground), wants to know more about what he can do to prepare.

“No matter if you fear the destruction of the world, power outages, or any other threat, the key is to stock up on supplies," explains Löfgren.

"Make sure that you have some water bottles in your fridge, dried or canned food so that you have something to eat, and candles to keep you warm.”

Simple enough, except I'm already in the bunker and all I have is my laptop.

I am also alone, a fact which emboldens me to venture back to the surface to stock up on supplies, but also to talk to others about why they don't seem to care that there may literally be hours left before we are all obliterated.

My quick survey on the streets of Stockholm shows that many Swedes just cannot be bothered taking the Mayan calendar seriously.

Story continues below…

"I don’t believe that the world will end tomorrow," says 51-year-old Eva.

"But if I did, I would spend my last day on earth with my loved ones."

Meanhile, New York-native Mike, 37, hasn't prepared at all for the threat of imminent death and destruction.

“What do you do when the world ends?” he asks, pausing for a second before adding that he'd drink some wine and take up smoking again.

“I haven’t smoked for five years, but if the world ends who cares? Lung cancer won’t care,” he quips.

So why are Swedes unconcerned about the end of the Mayan calendar?

“I think that Swedes in general are used to basing their fears on scientific studies, rather than superstitions and mystical interpretations,” answers disaster expert Löfgren.

He doesn't believe the hype either.

On that note, perhaps I should just head back to the office. Besides, it was rather boring underneath Stockholm.

Eric Johanssontwitter.com/thelocalsweden

Related links:

Your comments about this article

17:55 December 20, 2012 by skogsbo
if mayans were so good at seeing the future, why aren't they around any more?
20:35 December 20, 2012 by SockRayBlue
The calendar had to end somewhere. The sign for infinity hadn't been invented yet...remember, the figure eight on its side. I'm sure the laughing of those ancients is still ringing in the jungle.

Being Swedish I have to agree with the Swedes...what can you do about it? Make love, have a beer and relax. You still have to show up for work on Monday.

Was that Friday morning or evening?
21:03 December 20, 2012 by heroine
People should really stop this propaganda and BS there is no such a thing as end of the world.
22:44 December 20, 2012 by Emerentia
I feel so sorry for those people who live their lives afraid of some apocalypse or armageddon, especially children growing up in families where the parents are obsessed with these ideas and spend all their money on hoarding of canned food and weapons and survival stuff.
02:37 December 21, 2012 by Monica Williams
I really would like some Swedish meat balls for dinner but I am in the USA....So we are eating tacos instead...So much for the end of the world...Lol...!!!...I be working tomorrow and paying taxes now that sucks...!!!
Today's headlines
Sweden loses fastest internet crown
Good luck untangling those. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman /SvD /TT

Worse still, the new European king is Norway.

Where to see the Northern Lights in Sweden tonight
The Northern Lights pictured in Sweden on Wednesday night. Photo: Norrsken Sverige

An unusually high level of solar activity means the spectacle could be visible from rare spots in the country.

The Local List
These are the brands Swedes love the most
What brands do the Swedes love the most? Photo: Per Groth/Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/Pontus Lundahl/TT

Revealed: Swedes' top-20 favourite brands.

Spotify launches new karaoke style streaming in Japan
Can karaoke help Spotify to crack Japan? Photo: DocChewbacca/Flickr creative commons

The Swedish streaming giant has taken inspiration from Japan's love of karaoke with its launch in the country.

US rappers' gig ends in 'bloodbath' in Stockholm
US rapper Ghostface Killah. Photo: Scott Roth/Invision/AP

A man ran onto the stage during a concert by US rappers Ghostface Killah and Killah Priest in Stockholm.

Border checks
Could Sweden's border controls soon be lifted?
The border control at the Swedish side of the Öresund Bridge to Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

The EU-approved six-month extension of controls in the south of the country will soon come to an end.

'Homemade bomb' on bus in Sweden was bike helmet
File photo of a Swedish police officer. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

A bicycle helmet sparked a bomb scare on a bus in Uppsala.

What's on in Sweden
Four don't-miss festivals in Sweden this week
Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival. Photo: Stockholm Öl & Vin AB

Arab cinema, Gay Pride, out-of-the-box art, whisky and craft beer – what more could a person in Sweden possibly need?

Sweden advised to bring conscription back in 2018
Bringing back the draft could help a stretched military, a government inquiry says. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Young men and women could be made to fill in questionnaires for recruitment to the Armed Forces as early as next year, according to a new proposal.

Nationalists suspend aide after Russia propaganda claim
The suspended aide is a political secretary to SD member of parliament Kent Ekeroth. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

His suspension comes only days after another of the party's political secretaries resigned amid controversy over a property deal in Russia.

Sponsored Article
Expat finances in Sweden: the Common Reporting Standard
Gallery
People-watching: September 28th
Sponsored Article
Let's Talk: a personal Swedish language tutor in your pocket
National
Aliens' sex lives? Why Swedes want Nasa to send a condom into space
Analysis & Opinion
'If Sweden really wants startups, drop the red tape on migration'
Blog updates

27 September

Cutting your nose …. (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Last week, Jeremy Browne, the Special Representative for the City of London, visited Sweden. Jeremy was…" READ »

 

7 September

Svensk or svenska? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! My inbox is full of questions :-). Here’s one about when to use “svensk” and…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
‘I view the world in a different way now’
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Trump an 'embarrassment' Springsteen tells Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 23rd-25th
Politics
Russian Sweden Democrat aide resigns over suspect deal
Sponsored Article
'Creating a sense of home': Collective living in Stockholm
National
Muslim teacher leaves job after not shaking male colleague's hand
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Travel
Why we adore autumn in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 21st
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
National
Stockholmers hunt killer badger after attack on neighbourhood hipster cat
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
The Local Voices
Why this Russian developer is committed to helping refugees - with tech
National
Six key points in Sweden's budget plan
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
The Local Voices
How a Swedish name finally made recruiters notice this Iranian's CV
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
Property of the week: Luleå
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Gallery
People-watching: September 16th-18th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Culture
Why Swedish TV has given these kids' trucks a sex swap
Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden’s ’a-kassa’
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Gallery
People-watching: September 14th
Politics
Why Sweden is putting troops on holiday dream island Gotland
The Local Voices
'What I mean when I say: I came here to blow myself up'
Society
VIDEO: Are Swedes that unfriendly?
Features
INTERVIEW: How Arthur the jungle dog opened hearts and minds
Gallery
Property of the week: Smögen, Västra Götaland
Society
Sweden's ancient forest tongue Elfdalian fights for survival
The Local Voices
'Whenever I apply for jobs I’m treated like an unwanted stranger'
The Local Voices
Is Swedish bosses' ignorance keeping refugees out of jobs?
2,960
jobs available