Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tick Tock

While reading the NYT last night, I noticed a new ad in the bottom right hand corner of the editorial section. You know, it's that space that generally has an Exxon Mobil piece of excrement in it. This time, the ad space was purchased by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

And they were moving their famous doomsday clock to five minutes to midnight. It had been set at 7 minutes til.

Here is part of the board statement:

We stand at the brink of a second nuclear age. Not since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has the world faced such perilous choices. North Korea’s recent test of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a renewed U.S. emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons, the failure to adequately secure nuclear materials, and the continued presence of some 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia are symptomatic of a larger failure to solve the problems posed by the most destructive technology on Earth.

As in past deliberations, we have examined other human-made threats to civilization. We have concluded that the dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons. The effects may be less dramatic in the short term than the destruction that could be wrought by nuclear explosions, but over the next three to four decades climate change could cause drastic harm to the habitats upon which human societies depend for survival.

This deteriorating state of global affairs leads the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists--in consultation with a Board of Sponsors that includes 18 Nobel laureates--to move the minute hand of the “Doomsday Clock” from seven to five minutes to midnight.


The international community faces a dilemma: How to mitigate climate change without increasing the dangers of nuclear materials proliferation.

Global warming poses a dire threat to human civilization that is second only to nuclear weapons. The most authoritative scientific group on these issues, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has concluded, “Most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.”

Carbon dioxide, principally from fossil fuel burning, has been accumulating in the atmosphere, where it acts like a blanket keeping Earth warm and heating up its surface, ocean, and atmosphere. As a result, current levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are higher than at any time during the last 650,000 years.

Observations of changes in the atmosphere, on land, in the oceans, in glaciers, and in polar ice cores have led to worldwide scientific consensus about the causes of climate change. The most distinguished scientific bodies in the United States, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have come to conclusions similar to those of the IPCC.


Turning back the Clock will depend on humanity’s ability to think in new ways about how to cooperate to achieve common goals. We ask scientists, in the words of Eugene Rabinowitch, not to "retire in resignation and despair to their laboratories" but to publicly engage these issues and make their voices heard. And we implore governments to actively engage the scientific community for sound, nonpartisan technical advice.

We urge immediate attention to climate change and caution those who believe nuclear energy is a problem-free solution. Finally, and most importantly, we call upon policy and opinion leaders, business and civic leaders, and the public to place the dangers of nuclear weapons at the top of their agendas for action.


The terrible and still unprecedented destructive power of nuclear weapons led Albert Einstein to observe, “With nuclear weapons, everything has changed, save our way of thinking.”

As we stand at the brink of a second nuclear age and at the onset of an era of unprecedented climate change, our way of thinking about the uses and control of technologies must change to prevent unspeakable destruction and future human suffering.

The Clock is ticking."

In balance, this is not the closest the clock has moved to the dreaded midnight.

In 1953, it moved to 2 minutes before midnight after the the United States decided to pursue the hydrogen bomb, a weapon far more powerful than any atomic bomb. In October 1952, the United States tested its first thermonuclear device, obliterating a Pacific Ocean islet in the process; nine months later, the Soviets tested an H-bomb of their own.

And it's been "three minutes til" twice, in 1949 and in 1984.

In 1981, the election of Reagan managed to move the clock to four minutes.

The clock was a full 17 minutes away (the record) in 1991 under Clinton when the US and Russia began to make deep cuts in their arsenals. The Bulletin was so optimistic they said, “The illusion that tens of thousands of nuclear weapons are a guarantor of national security has been stripped away".

But yesterday's tick represented the first time that the Atomic Scientists have warned us about something besides nuclear destruction.

They now view climate change as dangerous as nuclear destruction.

"Climate change could cause drastic harm to the habitats upon which human societies depend for survival."

And destroyed habitats lead to military confrontations.

I suppose Exxon will have their place back today, so they can inject more gobbletygook into the mouths and eyes of those who continue to cover their hearts with their pocketbook.

Who knows?

Maybe they'll be able to sell their "snake oil" to the Dolphins.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Climate change stands alongside the use of nuclear weapons as one of the greatest threats posed to the future of the world, the Cambridge cosmologist Stephen Hawking has said.

Professor Hawking said that we stand on the precipice of a second nuclear age and a period of exceptional climate change, both of which could destroy the planet as we know it.

He was speaking at the Royal Society in London yesterday at a conference organised by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists which has decided to move the minute hand of its "Doomsday Clock" forward to five minutes to midnight to reflect the increased dangers faced by the world.

4:25 AM  

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