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Earth Politics

Doomsday Clock Remains at Five Minutes to Midnight 222

Lasrick writes "The Doomsday Clock remains at 5 minutes to midnight. In a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and members of the UN Security Council, the Bulletin announced its decision and how it was made. The decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made every year by the Bulletin's Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and new technologies emerging in other domains." Reasons for the clock remaining at five minutes include the U.S. and Russian not doing much for disarmament increasing nuclear weapon stockpiles in India and China, stalled efforts to reduce carbon emissions globally, and "killer robots."
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Doomsday Clock Remains at Five Minutes to Midnight

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  • DOOOOOOOMED (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:10PM (#45966573) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, this particular instrument has always been a "be afraid, due to mangled metaphor" instrument for PR, and never really meant anything meaningful and measurable.

    I mean, we do lack an objective instrument for how screwed we are as a species, but "any minute now" is just a terribly uninformative model.

  • wait wait wait.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:11PM (#45966589) Journal

    Ok, I understand nuclear weapons stockpiles, and natural catastrophes... but "killer robots"? Isn't the doomsday clock supposed to indicate how close we are to global disaster? How does "killer robots" enter in exactly? I mean in the real world, not in the Terminator universe.

  • Re:North Korea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:14PM (#45966643)

    "The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world's obsession with alarmism"


    it is and has always been an excuse for (insert administration) to do what ever the F#$&^%* they want to do anyway.

  • Re:DOOOOOOOMED (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:31PM (#45966889) Homepage Journal

    I mean, we do lack an objective instrument for how screwed we are as a species, but "any minute now" is just a terribly uninformative model.

    Especially when we've been "minutes from DOOM" for 60-some-odd years already.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:33PM (#45966921)

    Sending off drones or other machines/vehicles with weapons into foreign nations, without declaring war, and covertly, seems pretty dangerous to me. Seems like very fertile grounds for an international crisis. Lots of groups will like the idea, not all of them nations.

    I am not sure how "pretty dangerous" drones could lead to a worldwide catastrophe, which is what the Doomsday Clock is supposed to indicate.

  • Re:DOOOOOOOMED (Score:4, Insightful)

    by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:36PM (#45966949) Homepage Journal

    I mean, a PR stunt that says "don't start a nuclear war, ya doffers" wasn't necessarily a bad idea back then, but its continuation as an "institution" really just ruins its credibility.

  • Re:North Korea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:50PM (#45967135)

    Hence the inclusion of global warming as a criteria?


  • Re:DOOOOOOOMED (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:57PM (#45967255) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, it's kinda silly to compare an environmental disaster that will moderately drop the potential carrying capacity of the planet to nuclear annihilation, as even being the same order of magnitude of danger. It makes climate change harder to take seriously, which is bad, because it's important(just not anywhere near as important as not starting a nuclear war).

  • Re:North Korea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @02:04PM (#45967361) Journal

    Actually, yeah.

    Not that climate change isn't something to watch (no matter who or what is at fault), but when you consider that (barring an asteroid) climate changes are on a far longer timescale than, say, massive thermonuclear war? Methinks the clock maintainers are looking for new and scarier boogeymen to conjure up, since the end of the Cold War pretty much took away the biggest one they had.

    In all reality, there are plenty of things that could spell 'doomsday', even without human action towards that end - problem is, they're kind of unpredictable. Supercalderas/Supervolcanoes, asteroid impacts, Coronal Mass Ejections, you-name-it... can't do jack about those, though, so they have to find something they can point to and say "OMG you need to change your behavior NOW!" I'll leave the validity and urgency of these warnings as an exercise to the individual reader, as your mileage may vary.

  • Re:DOOOOOOOMED (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @02:05PM (#45967383)

    The doomsday clock accumulates the new fears of western elites like some sort of alarmist meme flypaper.

    In truth, the doomsday clock represents exactly that set of things you should not worry about. The thing that will actually blow up our world will be deliberately excluded from the list because that thing will enjoy the highest degree of political immunization. Right up until it all goes pear shaped.

  • Re:North Korea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @02:13PM (#45967483) Homepage

    NK attacking its neighbors would be a horrible tragedy, but would certainly not trigger "World War III". China is very sick of Kim Jong Un's crazy shit. The only reason they still prop up the regime is because they don't want 25 million starving refugees pouring into their country.

  • Re:North Korea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @02:19PM (#45967573)

    Agreed 100%.

    Instead of focusing on the negative how about focusing on the postive and start calling it the Peace Clock -- A countdown of the progress for every nation to stop waging idiotic wars with one another ??

  • by jayveekay ( 735967 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @02:25PM (#45967663)

    Janet Black: Doctor Manhattan as you know the Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock face analogizing humankind's proximity to extinction, midnight representing the threat of nuclear war. As of now it stands at four minutes to midnight. Would you agree that we are that close to annihilation?

    Jon Osterman: My father was a watch maker. He abandoned it when Einstein discovered time is relative. I would only agree that a symbolic clock is as nourishing to the intellect as photograph of oxygen to a drowning man.

  • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @02:50PM (#45967999) Journal

    Because, to some people, the method of someone being killed is more important than the fact they were killed to begin with. See: Syria's chemical weapon attacks last year.

    One hundred thousand people dead from bullets and explosives, Obama, the US Department of State, the collective foreign policies of Europe, and anyone else that isn't directly sharing a border with Syria could give a fuck. One hundred people dead from Sarin, OH BOY LET'S INVADE! LET'S SANCTION! BOMB THE FUCK OUT OF DAMASCUS!!

    Dead is dead. Outside of the moment someone dies, the method hardly matters.

  • Re:DOOOOOOOMED (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lennier ( 44736 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @05:38PM (#45969715) Homepage

    the systematic "burning" of Cold War nuclear weapons as commercial fuel to light the very cities they once threatened.

    Admittedly WWIII would also have lit the cities extremely well... for a couple of microseconds.

    I think the generation who grew up after the 1980s don't really grasp just how intensely we 80s kids felt the shadow of nuclear war. You can't really understand 80s culture without that; it seeps into almost every part of art and culture from 1980-1989, especially New Wave music. Climate change and the War on Terror combined? They don't even begin to approach a fraction of the existential certainty of absolute destruction we felt. (Though we had both back then too; watch 1973's "Soylent Green" and you'll see global warming as part of the backdrop). And the relief at WWIII being postponed when the Wall fell... quickly turning to disgust as capitalism ate everything...

    "I wanted to run through the street yelling, to grab them all and say: 'Every day from this day on is a gift. Use it well!' Instead, I got drunk." []

    That right there is everything you need to know about Generation X and why we feel so burned out on life. But, hey, alive after twenty, and not expecting to be, and every day we don't have a nuclear apocalypse is a good day. And every nuclear warhead destroyed and turned into toxic but not explosive nuclear fuel is a win.

    But the nukes are still there, and the missiles are being repurposed as 'conventional' warheads [], and that's sure going to end well for all concerned. Before, identifying nuclear attack was easy: an unscheduled ICBM launch means you push the button. Under Prompt Global Strike, how do you tell if an incoming ICBM signature is a nuke warhead or a conventional warhead? You don't. You guess. That's.... nice.

    So, the Doomsday clock is still relevant and I for one am glad it's there. To remind us all of what once was, the shadow we lived under, and the shadow that still hasn't completely gone away.

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