After the spectacular picture of a sinkhole in Guatemala caused by tropical storm Agatha, the Chinese internet has been abuzz with reports of large numbers of the eerily circular formations suddenly appearing across China.
Even straight-laced old Xinhua has got the bug, reporting (in one of those sensationalist, stability-busting headlines for China’s state news agency is renowned): “Cave-ins found in many areas of China”
I’m sure there are lots of excellent geological, meteorological and man-made reasons why these things appear – earthquakes, droughts, old coal mine workings – but that would be far too boring for the febrile minds of China’s 400m netizens.
And looking at the pictures, I half-share their collective shiver of anticipation that these things are unnatural portents of catastrophe.
The end-of-the-world-is-nigh movie 2012 (was that the worst film ever made?) was a big hit in China, so it’s no surprise that lots of the discussion of these apparitions in the earth make reference to that.
“Closer and closer to 2012” warned one commenter on the Netease platform. “Will what was the ocean become land and what is now land become the ocean?,” asked another. “Do aliens come out of these holes?,” questioned a third.
On and on the comments go: “God is very angry with earthlings polluting behavior and has decided to punish earthlings,” said a fourth, and “Let’s organize ourselves and quickly go to Tibet to find the ark,” enjoins a fifth.
Or my favourite, (can you hear the panic rising?), “Why are the holes so round? Even humans can’t make it this round. Why is there such frequency and intensity? Why aren’t there any reasonable explanations?”
Why indeed? Cue X-files music, pull down that battered copy of Nostradamus’s predictions from the bookshelf, scratch off the last days of the Mayan calendar (ends 2012) and steep yourselves in the Apocalypse of St John.
That’s if you like that sort of thing. Me, I’m off for a beer while I wait for the earth to swallow me up.
By Peter Foster
Last updated: June 9th, 2010