Disclaimer: The opinions of the columnists are their own and not necessarily those of their employer.
C. Warren Axelrod

TEOTWAWKI and the Real Y2K Story

Whether or not you believed that the end-of-the-world was going to happen on December 21 or December 24, 2012 due to the Mayan calendar ending on one of those days, it is clear now that anticipated catastrophic events did not come to pass.

Some commentators suggested that the dire warnings were overblown as they believed the Y2K warnings to have been. However, I don’t know of any computer programs that are based on the Mayan calendar, nor was there a multibillion dollar effort to remediate any such software if it did exist.

Having lived through Y2K mitigation efforts and having seen actual events occur, but not publicized, from the vantage point of the U.S. government’s command center, I can vouch for the reality of the Y2K threat and the superb efforts of those who mitigated the risks. There was no comparison. For the more recent prediction of TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it), there were no remediation efforts since no one knew what might actually happen. Even sending Bruce Willis up in a spaceship to destroy an incoming asteroid was not contemplated, although that is something that we should probably think about setting up, particularly if you realize how close to the Earth Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass on February 15, 2013. From a small item “Close Shave” by Christopher Kaeser on page A14 (coincidence?) of The Wall Street Journal of January 2, 2013, you will discover that this asteroid will actually pass within 21,500 miles of this planet and that, if it had hit, the energy generated from the impact would have been 2.4 megatons or 120 times greater than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. That sounds pretty cataclysmic to me.

Just so you know what might have happened if the Y2K remediation hadn’t been done, watch the video “The Onion’s Extremely Accurate History of the Internet, Part 4: Y2k – A Civilization Rises From The Ashes” available at  http://screen.yahoo.com/onions-extremely-accurate-history-internet-005604031.html;_ylt=Arg879T4H22bLhBT5UbH1uxlnkQv;_ylu=X3oDMTNjN3UzZW01BG1pdANSZWxhdGVkIFZpZGVvcyBMb25nIGxpc3QgVVBQIDIEcGtnAzk5N2JkYTMwLTM4ZjUtMTFlMi04MWMxLTA4MDAyMDBjOWE2NgRwb3MDMQRzZWMDcmVsYXRlZF92aWRlb3NfY2EEdmVyAw–;_ylg=X3oDMTFoOTlpZTNlBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdAMEcHQDdmlkLWdhbGxlcnk-;_ylv=3

There are still many who believe that the Y2K impending disaster was an overblown hoax perpetrated by consultants looking to generate business based on fear. It wasn’t a hoax. It was real. And it was one of the few cases where IT folks all over the world collaborated on working on a solution. It is among the finest examples of multinational cooperation, even though it was motivated by fear of catastrophe. Would that we could be prescient enough to anticipate and avert other natural and man-made disasters. The next time someone tells you that Y2K was a non-event, check their credentials. Did they actually work on the problem? If not, they have no basis for their assertions.

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