Doomsday Clock: Five Minutes to Midnight

Written by David Bryson. Posted in Opinion, Politics

Published on February 03, 2012 with 1 Comment

On January 10, 2012, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago set the Doomsday Clock to five minutes to midnight.

By David Bryson, M.D.

February 3, 2012

The public world of 2012 is a three-sided paradox: Global bad news is constant; knowledge of global bad news is extensive, making remedial action theoretically possible;  and communication about solutions to global bad news is easy and inexpensive, so many people in many locations can plan and act to make good news happen.

A sample of bad news

– There is global warring anywhere, global warming everywhere.
– After 5000 years of mercantilism with no natural limits, most governments exhort their citizens to spend more and consume more.
– General disregard for the rule of law.

In Russia, President Putin allows blatant stuffing of ballot boxes. Many journalists have been assassinated with no arrests or justice. Putin projects the behavior and personality of a czar.

Obama taught constitutional law. As President, he has ordered the assassination of at least two US citizens. Not only is this unconstitutional, there was no public discussion of whether or not it was justified. Like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, it is the sudden “Off with their heads!” The Founding Fathers could not imagine such disregard for their craft of openness and free argument.

Four milestones in the sophisticated knowledge of human problems:

– 40 years ago, the Club of Rome published “The Limits to Growth.” A computer at MIT was programmed to project the interactions of such variables as world population and pollution, and predicted that exponential escalations would in a few decades overshoot reasonable hopes of stability

– 30 years ago, I attended the First Conference on the Fate of the Earth in Manhattan. It was sponsored by David Brower, President of Friends of the Earth, and Jonathan Schell, author of the book “The Fate of the Earth,” about the pervasive dangers of nuclear weapons. Pro-biosphere and anti-military voices were brought together in the same arena.

– Since 1947, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has published its famous Doomsday Clock. From their press release on January 10, 2012: “Faced with inadequate progress on nuclear weapons reduction and proliferation, and continuing inaction on climate change, the hands of the Doomsday Clock have been moved to five minutes to midnight. The last time the Doomsday Clock was moved was in January 2010, when the Clock’s minute hand was pushed back one minute from five to six minutes to midnight.”

– The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just reported that “The number of severe weather events in the United States costing a minimum of $1 billion dollars increased from about 1.2 per year in the early 1980’s to about 5 in the 2000s, and 2011 saw a record high of 12 such events. Worldwide, the previous record of $220 billion in disaster damages in 2005 was exceeded in 2011 – about $380 billion.”

So anybody who wants to look can find knowledge of the world going to hell in a hundred hand baskets!

And where are world citizens coming together to act for improvements? 150 years ago, the First Internationale gathered in St Martin’s Hall, London. It brought protesters from multiple countries together to fight the status quo. They realized that nation states were using nationalism to control and brainwash the public.

This last year has seen a resurgence of international spirit. First the Arab Spring, not just about a single country. Then Occupy Wall Street, which rapidly spread to cities around the world. Now there is global focus on the elections in Russia, scheduled for next month on March 4.

This can be called an Internet Internationale. To resolve the paradox of world problems, a change is needed equivalent to the paradigm shift in physics a hundred years ago, when classical physics was completely revamped by quantum mechanics. Let there now be a computer-based cloud of protest!

David Bryson

David Bryson is a retired physician, intellectual polyglot, and anarcho-pacifist. He lives in Kerrville, Texas.

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1 Comment

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  1. Warming, warring. The latter is like lobsters vying for position when the kettle is slowly reaching a boil. I do see hope, as Dr. Bryson does, in internet-ional connectedness, a la Occupy and Arab Spring.