Doomsday Clock: Is it a Sign of Hope for Mitigating Climate and Other Catastrophes?

| 1/14/2010 1:30:31 PM

Maintained since 1947 by the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago, the symbolic "Doomsday Clock" represents the analogy that the human race is at a time that is a "few minutes to midnight," where midnight represents destruction by nuclear war. In recent years, the analogy of midnight has also included catastrophic destruction as a result of climate change. The minute hand on the clock has been moved, backward and forward, only 19 times since the clock's creation. On Jan. 14, the Bulletin, which includes more than a dozen Nobel Laureates, moved the minute hand back one minute, from five to six minutes before midnight.

In their statement regarding the move, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said that "By shifting the hand back from midnight by only one additional minute, we emphasize how much needs to be accomplished, while at the same time recognizing signs of collaboration among the United States, Russia, the European Union, India, China, Brazil, and others on nuclear security and on climate stabilization."

Changing the time on the Doomsday Clock always garners media coverage, but perhaps more so following December's Copenhagen climate talks, which have generally been declared disappointing, at the least. Despite the offical results of Copenhagen, if media coverage is any indication, environmental awareness and responsibility are on the rise. Grist reports, for example, the hopeful news that Developing Nations Continue to Lead Post-Copenhagen.

The decision to move the hand back a minute is a hopeful one, and it indicates that there is much work to be done. Do you think, in the analogy of the clock, that the Bulletin's decision is accurate? Do you agree, or do you think we're in better or worse shape than the one-minute move indicates? Post your comments below.


You can read more about the Doomsday Clock and this year's time change in these articles:

Fran Tracy
3/26/2010 6:53:24 PM

The whold climate change thing is a big hoax to make a few people like Al Gore rich. All the infromation that has come out about the placement of thermomitors or weather stations where jet exhaust, outlets from airconditioneers and other heat sources proves the data is false. The very emails and data has been proven to be ignoring all data that does not support climate change and only using the data that might support it. The other thing, the thermomiters that were used many years ago were not accurate anyway. GOD IS IN CONTROL AND PEOPLE CAN NOT CHANGE THE CLIMATE. THE TEMPERATURES HAVE BEEN GOING THROUGH CYCLES ALL ALONG. FRAN

1/19/2010 10:39:54 AM

Can we, yes. Will we, NO! With ongoing population expansion and the desire for everybody to have "the good life" the necessary action won't be taken until it is too late. In this we will join such past cultures as the Mayans and Easter Islanders who destroyed the ecosystem around them rather than give up their lifestyle until there was catastrophic environmental collapse. Unfortunately for us this one will be global instead of regional.

1/19/2010 7:45:27 AM

Yes, global warming is is global cooling. Just how much of it is anthropogenic? I don't think there is a definite answer. With all the scientific evidence and recent events regarding Climategate, just how can anybody take the subject serious? Rather than focus on the facts presented and the agreements/denials by the masses, why not continue the effort to reduce anthropogenic pollution, continue the restoration of damaged habitats and be the stewards of our planet. The hype of "doomsday" is just that-Hype. Work towards a better world, reduce the materialism, elevate the awareness of clean energy, good health and good lifestyle and just enjoy life. Continue the effort for clean, renewable energy and be thankful for every day we are able to exist comfortably on our planet.

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