There are plenty of signs of an impending apocalypse. Most recently, disgraced baseball star Jose Canseco announced he would be boxing Rodney King in September while TV reality dad Jon Gosselin will be hosting a pool party in Las Vegas. But with a sudden fascination in pop culture, industry, and Washington, real doomsday fears have arrived regardless of how soon the end comes.

This fall, ABC will premiere a new end-of-the-world series, Flash Forward, based on the 1999 novel, James Rollins’ the Doomsday Key was required summer reading, and director Roland Emmerich, who has dealt with countless doomsday scenarios in films like Independence Day, the Day After Tomorrow, and Godzilla, will be unveiling his latest apocalyptic vision in the upcoming film 2012.

The year 2012 in particular has been the center of a doomsday fascination. The belief among some is that the Mayans foretold that the end of the world would take place in December, 2012. Even if you’re not one for ancient cultures, the fascination with the apocalypse has grown prominently in light of what many have already seen as a financial apocalypse over the past 18 months. Prominent Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakariah noticed the connection in May, when he opined “Over the past six months, the doomsday industry has moved into high gear. Economists and business pundits are competing with each other to describe the next Great Depression.”

Between epidemics, financial collapse, environmental calamity, and terrorist threats, an industry of sorts has certainly ramped into high gear. With the extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act in December, 2007, a number of Americans have begun preparing for judgment day. With a new emphasis on survivalism, stores like have become a reliable source for survival gear in an era where preparedness (some may say paranoia) is a new priority. So by the time Cormac McCarthey’s post-apocalyptic vision the Road hits the big screen, some Americans should already be prepared for the real thing.