It’s not an Iron Maiden song, what is it? Have you ever heard of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists? Yeah, it’s not a magazine I subscribe to either, but in a nutshell; it’s a group of atomic scientists and climate change scientists (not sure how they got in there, I guess they’re everywhere) that predict the total destruction of the world. They use this clock, the doomsday clock that counts down to midnight, where midnight is the destruction of civilization and the earth. Well in truth, it isn’t much of a clock. Since its inception in 1947 the farthest it has been from midnight is 23:43, sorry that’s 11:43 pm for those of you that don’t understand 24 hour time. The closest it has been was 2 minutes to midnight, in the height of the cold war between 1953 and 1960. Then it backed off quite a bit and it’s farthest point was 1991-95, but since 1998 it has dropped pretty hard and steady with a small uptick between 2010 and 2012 but dropped to 3 minutes to midnight in 2015 and at the end of January the group announced the clock would remain there for 2016.
So yeah, many global scientists have been beating the climate change drum for years… I truly don’t want to debate climate change! All I will say, is that if climate change is truly a threat, it will be 50 to 100 years before the climate is changed so significantly as to affect life as we know it. On the flip side of that coin, there is the atomic threat. There are many atomic/nuclear threats in the world, real or perceived that really do need to be addressed.
Beginning in the late 1990’s there began a general worldwide scare that Russian suitcase nukes or mini-nukes went missing after the fall of the Soviet Union. There was an Australian television documentary that claimed, out of 132 mini-nukes only 48 were accounted for. The question became, where were the rest? Hollywood released a series of movies based on the subject including Peacemaker and Bad Company, the television series, “24” ran for 9 seasons 2001-2010. Many of the movies have claimed these nukes could take out an entire city, however in reality with a warhead measuring about 23 inches long and weighing about 70 pounds, would have a yield less than 1 kiloton, less than 1/10 the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. I don’t mean to minimize the threat of these nukes. They’re small, portable, and the perfect terror weapon! They may not level an entire city but would still kill millions!
In addition to the suitcase nukes, there are rogue nations pursuing their own nuclear weapon programs. North Korea has conducted 4 nuclear weapons tests in the past 10 years including one last month (January 2016). Don’t get me started on Secretary Kerry’s Iranian nuclear deal. In short, yes there is a very real nuclear threat out there. However both Iran and North Korea are still in the infant or toddler stages of a nuclear weapons program. For them to develop a strike capable nuke, they’re still several years away unless maybe you are their neighbor. In the case of North Korea, they have to know that any nuclear aggressive action on their part toward any advanced nuclear country would result in the entire country of North Korea experiencing a heat wave, like a 100 million degree Celsius heat wave. Iran on the other hand, due to the fundamentalist nature of their leadership, may actually use a nuclear weapon, consequences to their own country be damned.
My question is, “does it warrant 3 minutes to midnight?” One minute farther away than the height of the cold war. Its 4 minutes closer than the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 when many in the west thought nuclear war was imminent! We’re sitting at one minute closer than when NATO ran their “Able Archer” war game in Germany in 1983. So why is the threat of world destruction so close in 2015-16? I don’t think it’s the nuclear threat from rogue states since the real threat there is still perhaps 10 years away. The missing suitcase nukes, if indeed they do exist have been floating around out there for 30 years. True, we didn’t have the ISIS threat for the last 30 years, but we did have other brands of radical Islam. After all they did detonate a truck bomb under tower one of the world trade center in 1993 in an attempt to topple both towers. I don’t even think it is about climate change, with all due respect to the current President of the United States, climate change is not the number one threat to America! Since the earth’s climate is cyclic and has been warming and cooling for many millions of years, the fact that humans could cause, let alone prevent global climate fluctuation is arrogant at a minimum.
There is definitely the ability for the nations of the world to engage in a thermonuclear war, the fallout from which could block out the sun and throw the globe into a nuclear winter, because the weapons do exist. However please forgive my skeptical cynicism, but I think the “Doomsday Clock” is a way, for a group of scientists that have not had a meaningful scientific contribution to the world in years, to bring some global attention to their group and attempt to promote funding for their research. I find it highly doubtful we are closer to a nuclear or any other type global disaster than we were during most of the cold war.