Repeatedly throughout history people have imagined that the end of the world, or at least the end of the present age, was nigh. This is particularly true in times of plague, famine, unrest, tyranny, and war, which pretty well covers most of human history.
Supposedly people were panicking in the eleventh century, and, more recently, prophets have convinced their naive followers to give up all their worldly goods or even committ mass suicide. But this time is different.
We are nearing the winter solstice, 2012 date forecast as the end of this age by the Mayas, who had remarkably accurate lunar and solar calendars, and fairly advanced mathematics, including the zero concept.