The Doomsday Clock is an internationally recognized design that conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons, but the dangers include climate-changing technologies, emerging... Read More
When I moved to a neighborhood known as the "murder capital" of New York City, I figured it was only a matter of time before someone held a knife to my throat and demanded my wallet. I would hand it over, of course. It's only money, right? But it didn't happen like I thought it would. I left a Christmas party late one night and heard someone running behind me as I approached a subway entrance. When I whirled to look, I was struck with a heavy object. I tumbled down the staircase and scrambled to my feet -- still in possession of 30 cents and two subway tokens.
Robert SocolowThomas RosenbaumLynn EdenRod EwingAlexander GlaserSivan KarthaEdward "Rocky" Kolb Leon LedermanRamamurti RajaramanM. V. RamanaRobert RosnerJennifer SimsRichard C. J. SomervilleElizabeth J. Wilson
Editor's note: Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists subsequently created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero), to convey threats to humanity and the planet.
We ran outside and saw gray clouds billowing over the ridge to our west. Smoke was already visible in the air around us. We knew in an instant that it was a wildfire, and the wind was blowing it straight toward us.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists concluded in 2007 that climate change poses almost as serious a threat to human survival as nuclear weapons do. Citing both perils in its decision to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin noted:
In The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss, the Yooks and the Zooks go to war over whether bread should be eaten with the buttered side up or down. The battle escalates from slingshots to guns to goo-spewing war machines, and eventually both the Yooks and the Zooks acquire a tiny but extremely destructive bomb called the Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroo. Neither side has any defense against the bomb, and both sides are left wondering who will drop it first.
On January 20, a state engineer with the Utah Division of Water Rights approved two applications that would allow Blue Castle Holdings to take a total of 53,600 acre-feet of water from the Green River annually for a proposed nuclear power plant. That's more than 17 billion gallons a year, enough for a city of 100,000 households.
In recent years, many foreign affairs experts have attempted to demonstrate the linkages between climate change and the social tensions that can lead to conflict. While critics may believe this is simply a fad in international affairs, history suggests otherwise. Over the last few millennia, climate change has been a factor in conflict and social collapse around the world. The changing climate has influenced how and where people migrate, affected group power relations, and provided new resources to societies while taking away others.
Much attention has been paid to newly emergent diseases that have afflicted humans in recent decades--HIV/AIDS, SARS, avian influenza, etc. Conversely, deadly diseases that have emerged in the world's oceans during the same time period have been largely ignored. While these diseases haven't caused epidemics in humans, they have proved troublesome to marine animal populations and to susceptible humans who have ventured into contaminated waters.
It's true that in places where birthrates remain high, e.g. sub-Saharan Africa, per-capita emissions are quite low. Joseph Chamie and Betsy Hartmann see this as reason not to pursue a population policy to reduce emissions.