Thursday, January 24, 2019

Doomsday Clock is Still Set to 2:00 'til Midnight

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists declined to change the time on their Doomsday Clock -- it's still 11:58:00 pm. "As dangerous as [the Cold War in] 1953.... We are is very close to disaster.... The fact that there's no change [in the clock setting] is bad."

(Or, as someone commented online, "two minutes to Donald.")

Here's their full statement. The time setting is more conservative than I expected.

The Bulletin has labeled this time as "The New Abnormal...unsustainable and unsettling...a disturbing reality in which things are not getting better." Among their reasons:
  • Climate change in an "existential risk."
  • Relations between US and Russia remain "unacceptably strained."
  • Information warfare and fake news are allowed to flourish. 
Quotes above & below are paraphrased and not always in order.

William Perry (old-time nuclear scientist) says climate change is "likely to lead to a climate catastrophe."

Susan Solomon, MIT: (paraphrasing) "Global emissions resumed after apparently plateauing. Worldwide emissions must be cut to zero well before the end of the century. US has the more resources to develop and implement a renewable energy system.... US failure to act is "an act of gross negligence." Paris Agreement is threatened.... World is losing ground in reducing emissions. Greenland's ice melting at unprecedented rate. 2018 to be 4th warmest, despite no El Nino, has contributed to some very serious wild wildfires in California, wildlife deaths in Australia and US.... This coming decade is absolutely critical, and we're running out of time.

Herb Lin had some prescient thoughts on information problems which I failed to capture while listening.

Jerry Brown was the most animated and most adamant. I'll try to find a transcript. He mostly talked about the nuclear situation, and said "It's late and it's getting later, and we've got to wake people in Washington up.... As far as I'm concerned, there's massive sleepwalking all over the place."

I'm hoping I'm alive when the Clock is set to sometime around 8:00 am. That will be a good day.


David in Cal said...

I would quibble with Dr. Solomon. What's needed is not necessarily a renewable energy system, but a system that doesn't emit CO2. Perhaps the most likely candidate is fusion. In this area, I believe the US may be the leader. Anyhow the US is devoting substantial resources to it.

David in Cal said...

If this scientist is correct, maybe solar energy will replace carbon-based fuels.

David Appell said...

David, but remember the joke that fusion is always 25 years in the future, and has been for 50 years.