"Repent, George W!" Said the Ticktockman

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Remember the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and their "Midnight's almost here oh wait it's not wait no it is" Doomsday Clock? It's being moved forward again, but not because the threat of nuclear armageddon has increased. It's being moved because of climate change.

Experts assessing the dangers posed to civilisation have added climate change to the prospect of nuclear annihilation as the greatest threats to humankind. As a result, the group has moved the minute hand on its famous "Doomsday Clock" two minutes closer to midnight.

"When we think about what technologies besides nuclear weapons could produce such devastation to the planet, we quickly came to carbon-emitting technologies," said Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Chicago-based BAS.

You can spend five minutes kissing your loved ones before doom strikes; alternatively, dig into Reason's global warming archives.

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  1. I think they just admitted their clock is irrelevant.

  2. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists could have moved the clock due to North Korea’s nuclear test or Iran’s continuing development towards nuclear weapons, both of which would have justified the change.

    Instead, they showed their true watermelon colors by making the statement they did.

    sigh

  3. And weather and climate are related to atomic energy how?

    Anyone?

    Bueller?

    OK, allowing more nuclear power plants could replace fossil fuel plants that emit greenhouse gasses. Did the BAS come out in favor of that?

    Shouldn’t there be a Bureau of Climate Scientists sundial or something, instead?

    Kevin

  4. I think they just admitted their clock is irrelevant.

    Heh. Kinda reminds me of how Cleveland’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame became the Rock ‘n’ Roll Mausoleum almost overnight, and how they’re now trying to salvage that boondoggle by interring early hip hop acts.

  5. This reminds me of a commercial I saw last night. I think it was for Philips Lighting. Baby floating on iceberg transitions into baby staring into a streetlamp while being carried by mom. This transition is over a narration that claims that “domestic lighting is the number one cause of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. At (company name) we are working to save the future.” or some such marketing BS. Great, now even my lightbulbs are dangerous and the company that makes them is attempting to sell based on scare tactics. Fucking Brilliant!

  6. And weather and climate are related to atomic energy how?
    Umm, nuclear fusion in the nearest star?

  7. Kevrob:
    I disagree with you on the following points …
    Cue Emily Litella, NEVER MIND.
    V/R J sub D

  8. I see that they are moving the clock hands, but who is moving Stephen Hawking’s hands?

  9. holy crap i actually got one of the article titles!!

    Ellison right?

  10. which by the way it is not a very good use of it….the “Ticktocman” was more of a critique on how our lives have been relegated and controlled by the schedules of modern life…not a ticking time bomb

  11. From the BAS

    “escalating terrorism, and new pressure from climate change for expanded civilian nuclear power that could increase proliferation risks”

    WTF? This is such a lie. These guys are atomic scientsits for Christ sakes. They know better than anyone that theermal reactors do not require weapons grade uranium or plutonium, only the old fast reactors that do. There is no reason to build a fast reactor unless you want nuclear weapons and people certainly are not building nuclear weapons to combat climate change. The BAS is pulling a fast one here. The need for nuclear power in now way justifies or increases the risk of proliferation.

  12. Nerd reference: The atomic clock also played a part in Watchmen. The back covers showed the clock ticking towards midnight with blood running down it, and the clock officially being moved to the one-minute mark is one of the news stories in the background.

    Now excuse me, the new issue of Rushkoff’s Testament is out, and I need to see how RDIF tags summon Mammon to Earth…

  13. “Nobody’s paid us any attention in quite a while. We’re in danger of becoming irrelevant. Let’s move the hands on the clock.”

  14. Both the nuclear menace and a runaway greenhouse effect were the result of technology whose control had slipped from humans’ grasp, the BAS directors said. But it was also within our power to pull them back under control, they added.

    Technology bad. Control good. Private individuals not humans. Ug.

  15. Is it just me, or does it really seem like everyone, including our scientists are reverting back to their medieval mindset and tossing rational skepticism to the wind.

    What’s next? Sacrificing a few goats and virgins to the gods to forestall doomsday?

  16. “Both the nuclear menace and a runaway greenhouse effect were the result of technology whose control had slipped from humans’ grasp,”

    What the hell does that mean? How are nukes not under the control of “humans’ grasp”? What are nukes out running ferrell in society just going off? I would say nukes, being inanimate objects, are always under human control. The problem is who controls them, which if course is these guys problem. But they don’t have the balls to come out and say, “the world is closer to disaster because lunatics in North Korea and perhaps Iran and incompetants like Russia and Pakistan now have nukes.” So, instead, they couch it in meaningless language like that.

  17. “Great, now even my lightbulbs are dangerous….”

    Have you ever latched on to a 100 watt bulb after it’s been on for a few hours? Those things get really hot!

  18. “What’s next? Sacrificing a few goats and virgins to the gods to forestall doomsday?”

    We are already there. What is Kyoto if not sacrificing some goats to the Gods? Even its supporters admit it won’t do anything to stop warming? At a smaller level, zero tolerance policies in schools are another example. “We can’t do anything to stop a lunatic from shooting up the school, so instead we will kick jimmy out of school for having a nail clipper on school grounds. Perhaps this sacrifice will show that we are doing something and ease the problem?”

  19. This is just a PR stunt by Iron Maiden’s publicist.

  20. ‘ “What’s next? Sacrificing a few goats and virgins to the gods to forestall doomsday?”

    We are already there. What is Kyoto if not sacrificing some goats to the Gods?’

    But goats emit methane!

  21. So if the BAS can control time like that, why don’t they just set the wayback machine to 1859 and coverup the first oil well…

    oh wait, I get it…this isn’t really about time, this is like, um, an analogy or symbolism. So that’s what one does with a degree in Atomic Science!

  22. “This is just a PR stunt by Iron Maiden’s publicist.”

    It only moved “two minutes closer”. Even with the move, I am not sure it is “two minutes to midnight”. If it is not and I am Iron Maiden’s publicist, I am on the phone to BAS asking them to click it forward just a little more.

  23. Isn’t a clock a ridiculouly inapt analogy for the prospects of global doom, since the essence of a clock is a mechanism where an indicator advances after a known period independent of other events – the opposite of the sudden and unpredictable doom of nuclear war which it was meant to represent?

  24. Love the Harlan Ellison reference…

  25. We are already there. What is Kyoto if not sacrificing some goats to the Gods?’

    But goats emit methane!

    So does the American Bison. Does this mean William F. Cody was a greenie well before anyone else?

  26. “joe | January 2, 2007, 11:25am | #

    2007 will do to global warming denial what 2006 did to Iraq War boosterism.”

  27. “2007 will do to global warming denial what 2006 did to Iraq War boosterism”

    Oh Really Joe, what exacly is going to happen? Please do tell. I am dying to find out. Let me guess, it will be another “warmest year on record”. Yeah, that will end all doubt and get the world to repent and give up its evil capitalist tendancies.

  28. It’s being moved forward again, but not because the threat of nuclear armageddon has increased. It’s being moved because of climate change.

    Definitely a “jump the shark” moment . . .

  29. “Oh Really Joe, what exacly is going to happen?”

    In response to increasing outrage by the public about being lied to, the media will stop treating the pronouncements of the deluded ideologues as having any basis in fact or reason, and will report the story straight, without giving credence to lies and fantasy in an attempt to achieve political balance.

    This will doom global warming denial just as assuredly as it’s doomed the Iraq War.

  30. Support biodiesel: eat meat.

  31. If anyone had asked me in 1970 about global warming, this smartass 15 year old would have replied that it has been going on for approx. 10,000 years (since the last ice age). For the vast majority (approx 99.8%) of that time humans consuming fossile fuels was not a significant factor. I’m not saying that human activity is not a credible factor in the planet’s climate today. Research and policy should, and likely will, address this. But global warming has been going on a long, long time.

  32. J sub D:

    true, but the name of the model is not all-encompassing of the model’s predictions, and therefore unhelpful in the policy debate (but understandable coming from your past, 15-year-old self). It’s not understandable coming from adults who want to remain willfully ignorant of the model’s predictions with ad hominem arguments based on a possibly inadequately descriptive name. (I’m not saying that this is what you’re arguing now.)

    reminds me of when we argue on Hit and Run about extinction and endangered species and commenters remind me that 99.9% of all species that have ever lived are extinct. True, but unhelpful.

  33. biologist, I hate to repeat myself but,

    I’m not saying that human activity is not a credible factor in the planet’s climate today. Research and policy should, and likely will, address this.

  34. The Doomsday Clock is a perfect demonstration of Zeno’s Paradox.
    They’re always moving the hands closer and closer to midnight, yet they never quite get there.
    Then again, if the world really does end, I don’t know if any brave souls will be willing to battle zombies/go out into the nuclear winter/experience an unseasonably warm spring day just to set the hands to midnight.

  35. “True, but unhelpful.”

    No less helpful than making doomsday claims not supported by the science or not offering practical sollutions for the alleged problem that do not involve government control and enormous transfers of wealth. I am a global warming skeptic if there ever was one, but if someone wants to replace coal plants with nuclear ones and make a serious effort at electric cars rather than hybrids, I would be very receptive. Unfortuneatly, those options are ussually not put forward and instead the threat of global warming is just used as a Gia sent answer to every socialist and statist’s prayers.

  36. In all fairness John, Socialist governments have always been the answer to a cleaner environment. Or do you forget the conditions found in Eastern Europe when the Iron Curtain came down? Air so dirty it turned every surface black, rivers flowing with poison, radioactive material left lying around, and even- I shudder to even mention this one- unfiltered cigarrettes.
    The environmental conditions of the Socialist countries have always been the envy of the world. Clearly we must embark on the Revolution once again.

    Will any lesson on collectivism ever be clear enough that we don’t have to learn it over again and again?

  37. Sadly, no, because it’s never a failure of the idea, it’s always a failure of the people who tried to put it into practice.

  38. J sub D, I hate to repeat myself but,

    I’m not saying that this is what you’re arguing now.

    John:

    “No less helpful than making doomsday claims not supported by the science…”

    true, scientists shouldn’t do this. unfortunately, because scientists usually report their predictions with a range of possible values and because this is apparently too complicated for the general public to understand or too boring to hold the general public’s attention, the worst case scenario is usually what is reported, leading us (scientists) to appear to be suffering from “the boy who cried wolf” syndrome.

    I wasn’t calling for socialism, Dave and Chris. However, government laws and regulations seemingly have resulted in less polluted air and water, right here in the U.S.

  39. I think a lot of us who are genuinely skeptical would not have as much of a problem with GW if we had more grounded claims.

    I don’t have a problem with folks stating that the earth is experiencing warming, and humans may be contributing to that, but with the sheer complexity of our ecosystem (and other extraterrestrial influences such as any varying in the sun’s temperature or intensity) we’re not 100% certain, but we should nonetheless do our part to conserve and invest time and money into more eco-friendly and profitable technology (such as replacing coal plants with nuclear plants) on the off chance that we are crapping where we live.

    But what puts me off is the religious certainly of some zealots who appear to be beyond the reach of reason and debate and have moved into the realm of faith that the world will end unless we peons submit our lives, money, and everything we have to the whims of our government masters who will save us by imposing strict controls on energy emissions and reducing our standard of living to that of a 3rd world nation.

    Sorry for the hyperbole, but you get my point.

    Doubt, skepticism and humility are more attractive than fanaticism.

  40. Maybe the BAS were motivated by this week’s episode of 24.

  41. Maybe the BAS were motivated by this week’s episode of 24.

    You have a point. The fact that heaven and earth were moved to get Jack Bauer out of that Chinese prison can only be a bad sign…

  42. biologist,
    Wow, miscommunication cleared up without rancor. Way cool. If this catches on, remember that you started it.

  43. You know, I heard a story on the adjustment of the Doomsday Clock on NPR, yesterday. The commentator didn’t mention anything about global warming, just all those countries with nukes.

    2007 will do to global warming denial what 2006 did to Iraq War boosterism.

    Except, of course, vanishingly few responsible climatologists in the global warming consensus make anything like apocalyptic predictions. The context is extinction of the human race, not economic disaster or environmental damage.

    But then, this is the sort of argument that almost looks, er, crafted to trigger angry reactions to its exaggeration…

  44. Leave it to the environmental statist left to make a stopped clock which is only right once a day rather then twice a day.

  45. I wasn’t calling for socialism, Dave and Chris. However, government laws and regulations seemingly have resulted in less polluted air and water, right here in the U.S.

    you are confusing causation with correlation…Liberty has been diminished by statists using environmental concerns as justification and pollution has diminished…of course pollution was diminishing before those laws were enacted and has diminished where regulations were not installed.

    Savings through efficiency is its own reward in a capitalist society.

  46. normally I ignore you, joshua, because I find little of import in your posts, but I can’t pass this up.

    note I said “seemingly” – so I qualified my statement right off the bat.

    I’m not confusing causation with correlation. Presumably, what you’re suggesting is that I’ve committed a post hoc ergo propter hoc type logical fallacy. It’s possible, that’s why I included the word “seemingly”.

    Perhaps the reason pollution diminished even in areas where regulations weren’t installed is because pollutants don’t respect property boundaries and are carried in the air and water and by reducing pollution in one area, there is less pollution in the environment generally.

    even if your “right” to pollute were more critical than the government’s regulations, you have no right to pollute on my property. polluting the groundwater or air on your property would result in pollution on adjacent properties.

    if not polluting were more economically efficient, businesses wouldn’t fight regulations against pollution.

    I’m not arguing all regulations are good, or that all regulations are necessary, but maybe some are, and maybe some have done some good, and if, only if, regulations are necessary and actually accomplish their stated goals of reducing pollution should they be implemented. As always, cost/benefit analysis should be employed, and we should be wary of unintended consequences such as those caused by the Endangered Species Act

  47. note I said “seemingly” – so I qualified my statement right off the bat.

    If you are going to put a “no responsibility for what i say” clause for every statment you make then why even say it?

    i don’t fundamentally disagree with the rest of what you said. I would probability only add to it.

  48. Isn’t a clock a ridiculouly inapt analogy for the prospects of global doom…

    Yes, exactly. The great thing about an actual clock is that you can use it to tell how far off a given time is. This looks like more of a Doomsday Mood Ring.

  49. Lets see:
    The clock started in 1947 at 23:53.
    Today in 2007, 60 years later, it’s at 23:55.
    So we have about 150 years to go until 24:00.

    Wouldn’t you think that a bunch of atomic scientists could at least upgrade to digital?

  50. Yeah Digital. And measure down to the nanosecond.

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