Photograph by Joern Haufe/Getty Images

The 12th-century Dresden Codex, also known as the 'Codex Dresdensis', one of four historic Mayan manuscripts that still exist in the world and that together suggest modern civilization will come to an end on December 21, at the Saxon State Library in Dresden, Germany.

In a release today billed as a “USGS Feature Story,” the hard-core scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey examine assertions coursing through the blogosphere that the world will end on Dec. 21 because the Mayan calendar says so.

The gist of the release is that all sorts of bad things can happen — it ticks off and discusses earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, wildfires, hurricanes, storms (including the magnetic variety) and floods — and that neither the USGS nor anyone else can say when.

Mayan calendar prophecies aside, the USGS says, “what we know with certainty is that Earth has a tremendous capacity to generate natural disasters on any day of the year.”

How very reassuring.

Thank you, USGS people.

And Merry Christmas.

Oops. Strike that.

That’s four days after the 21st.