There is a certain sect of scientific organizations which routinely predict a global catastrophe in the near future. These sects are as old as science itself, and first appeared in Medieval times. This line of scientific reasoning is referred to as catastrophism.
Although some of the catastrophism concepts are dated material, there are still scientist and philosophers who maintain castastrophism doctrines, even today. One of the more recent documentaries was given by Immanuel Velikovsky, a Russian psychiatrist who wrote several books in the 1950’s about catastrophic events in Earth’s history and attempted to tie these events with Biblical history. He was the first to coin the term catastrophism. His work was centered around the expectation that the Earth has had close encounters with Mars and Venus in the historical past, and that electromagnetic energy was the principal force in these encounters. His books Worlds in Collision in 1950 and Earth in Upheaval in 1956 brought much criticism from the scientific community. The concept of catastrophism is in direct contrast to the concept to the accepted geological doctrine of uniformitarianism, or what has happened in the past is the key to what will happen in the future by the same laws of nature. Although the two doctrines are dissimilar, there are certain threads of common ground. The fact that catastrophic events do occur and have occurred through time is one of the arguments for catastrophism, although not on a global scale. Velikovsky focused much of his work on ancient Egypt, Greece and the known world around the Near East Mediterranean from about 1100 – 750 BCE.
More recently, even today in 2009, there is an organization, the Institute for Human Continuity, that anticipates global chaos in the year 2012, including a close encounter with Planet X (the existence which has not been confirmed), great solar flares, and escalated plate tectonics which destroy or intensively damage Earth. They attribute this to a number of factors based upon the ancient Mayan calendar. Supposedly in 2012 the Sun and Earth will be close to the center of our galaxy creating great stresses on the Earth’s magnetic core. Planet X was discovered in the 1980’s, but attempts to locate it again have not be successful.
There is some truth to catastrophism, but most of today’s scientist tend to downplay many of it’s concepts. Uniformitarianism is still the most widely accepted doctrine. This does not discount that many catastrophic events have occurred, evidence by the dinosaur extinction by a celestial object impact with Earth at the end of the Cretaceous, almost universally accepted by the science community.