Fourth Floor Studio

January 17, 2007

Doomsday approaches

Filed under: news — chris @ 5:33 pm

The Bulletin for Atomic Scientists has moved its Doomsday clock to 5 minutes to midnight – the closest to symbolic annihilation of mankind it has been since the Star-Wars era arms races of the mid 80’s. The only other time 5 minutes was breached was during the aquisition and development of thermonuclear technology in the late 40’s and early 50’s.

The combination of causes, however, is unique. It’s not just the threat of global nuclear war. This time, it’s also global warming.



  1. And here I was, worred about running out of oil when all along I should have been building a fallout shelter!.

    Good to see you’re in a cheery mood…

    Comment by Greg Tyrelle — January 24, 2007 @ 2:26 am

  2. I suspect the Doomsday clock is meant to be a consciousness raiser, rather than an accurate predictor of apocalypse likelihood. Nothing wrong with that.

    I don’t know that climate change has the same potential to eliminate the human race that all-out nuclear war does. It will certainly mean major changes for millions of people – mostly the already-poor and disadvantaged. But it won’t end the world, or even humanity. Envoronmentalists really need to be careful of crying wolf and focusing on hard data and genuine threats.

    Comment by nsaunders — January 25, 2007 @ 1:47 am

  3. Agreed – it’s pointing to the likelihood of major changes to the present state of civilisation. Nuclear holocaust is obviously the big one, but I suspect that climate change, over the medium term, is likely to be as important.

    It boils down to our ability to feed the world’s population. Given that food redistribution is practically and politically impractical atm, agriculturally important changes, such as prolonged droughts in Africa and to a lesser extent Australia, collapsing fisheries around the world, and fast-approaching limits on drinkable water stocks will force major shifts in the way the world is run – sooner or later. It probably won’t be apocalyptic, but the most uncontrollable common factor is climate change, for obvious reasons.

    So I think there’s a reasonable, if much less dramatic, case to be made for climate change being a major modulator of the state of human civilisation.

    Comment by chris — January 25, 2007 @ 1:49 pm

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