Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Guesses for the New Doomsday Clock Setting?

Update 1/25: The Clock was set forward by half a minute, "amid increasing worries over nuclear weapons and climate change," so it's now at two minutes to midnight. Trump has at least 3 more years in office, so if this trend continues the Clock would be at a half a minute to midnight at the end of his first term. The fate of the world might hinge on defeating his bid for reelection (or on his impeachment and conviction -- one can always hope).

"'This is the closest the Clock has ever been to Doomsday, and as close as it was in 1953, at the height of the Cold War,'” said Rachel Bronson, president of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists." 

I certainly worry about nuclear Armageddon -- though not as much when I was younger, where for a few years after graduate school I would sometimes wake up screaming in the middle of a night after a dream -- but I don't think climate change will be "catastrophic." Difficult, costly, tragic in some situations -- but not catastrophic. By the 22nd century humans will probably know enough to do responsible geoengineering and prevent the 40 to 60 meters of sea level rise that would otherwise be coming over several millennia. Half of Florida might be gone by then, though. That alone is gonna cost trillions.

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The Doomsday Clock is currently set to 2.5 minutes before midnight. It's maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and will be reset this Thursday at 10 am ET, 7 am PT, 15:00 GMT. (No adjustment is also possible, as was done last year.) Watch online.

Any guesses on the new setting? I'm guessing 1.5 minutes before midnight, based solely on the fool now in the White House. (He'll probably consider this a positive sign of his worldwide fame.) A substantial jump forward, but still not too close to pure panic.

1.5 minutes before midnight would be the Clock's more dire setting ever. Here's its history:

1 comment:

marcoclimate said...

2 minutes. Tie with 1953.