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Doomsday Clock timings in our hands

Scientists have set the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight – pushing humanity closer to the brink of catastrophe than ever before. Climate inaction and the threat of nuclear war are the ‘two simultaneous existential dangers’ cited as the reasons by the clock’s guardians: the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board, and the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel Laureates.

“If there’s ever a time to wake up, it’s now,” said former California Governor Jerry Brown, executive chair, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Jerry’s right. So let’s wake up and stop the mainstream business, government, and society habits that got us here. Greed, self-interest, hate, needless competition and rivalry. We all know the reasons. It isn’t someone else doing this. It is us.

On the climate emergency, the Doomsday Clock statement recognised that ‘public awareness of the climate crisis grew over the course of 2019, largely because of mass protests by young people around the world’ but added: ‘just the same, governmental action on climate change still falls far short of meeting the challenge at hand’.

The statement suggests some possible responses to these extinction-level threats. On the climate, for example, it says “the countries of the world should publicly rededicate themselves to the temperature goal of the Paris climate agreement, which is restricting warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius higher than the preindustrial level. That goal is consistent with consensus views on climate science, and, notwithstanding the inadequate climate action to date, it may well remain within reach if major changes in the worldwide energy system and land use are undertaken promptly. If that goal is to be attained, industrialized countries will need to curb emissions rapidly, going beyond their initial, inadequate pledges and supporting developing countries so they can leapfrog the entrenched, fossil fuel-intensive patterns previously pursued by industrialized countries.”

Read the full statement.

Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later,

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Iain Robertson
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