The PJ Tatler

Doomsday Clock Moves up to 5 Minutes to Midnight

You will pardon my rather coarse descriptive of the jamokes that run the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, but after reading their explanation for why their famous “Doomsday Clock” has ticked a minute closer to midnight, one can only conclude they’re nothing but a bunch of gasbags.

The challenges to rid the world of nuclear weapons, harness nuclear power, and meet the nearly inexorable climate disruptions from global warming are complex and interconnected. In the face of such complex problems, it is difficult to see where the capacity lies to address these challenges. The political processes in place seem wholly inadequate to meet the challenges to human existence that we confront.

As such, the Science and Security Board is heartened by the Arab Spring, the Occupy movements, political protests in Russia, and by the actions of ordinary citizens in Japan as they call for fair treatment and attention to their needs. Whether meeting the challenges of nuclear power, or mitigating the suffering from human-caused global warming, or preventing catastrophic nuclear conflict in a volatile world, the power of people is essential. For this reason, we ask other scientists and experts to join us in engaging ordinary citizens. Together, we can present the most significant questions to policymakers and industry leaders. Most important, we can demand answers and action. As the first atomic scientists of the Bulletin recognized in 1948, the burden of disseminating information about the social and economic “implications of nuclear energy and other new scientific developments rests with the intelligent citizens of the world; the intense and continuing cooperation of the scientists is assured.”

“The political processes in place” are largely democratic processes in the west. Yes, messy, messy, messy democracy. Slow, unwieldy, and imagine political leaders actually taking into consideration the views of people who disagree with the scientists at the Bulletin? Not everyone is enamored of the idea of a world without nuclear weapons — especially since such a pie in the sky notion as that would be dependent on the really nasty thugs of the world foregoing the pleasure of  building them.

Iran, a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, is either building a nuclear bomb as fast as they possibly can or are carrying out the biggest bluff in diplomatic history. Iran is being punished for its violations of the NPT but that hasn’t slowed its progress toward going nuclear. One wonders why any rational person would put any faith at all in international agreements that can be violated with such impunity?

The naivete of an organization that actually sees promise in the “Arab Spring” rather than the catastrophe that it is rapidly becoming is breathtaking. Putting in power those who see it as their religious duty to destroy the state of Israel is not a path to a “world without nuclear weapons” but rather a recipe for potential world war — or at best, a bloody regional conflict that would plunge the world economy into a deep recession when oil prices skyrocket.

Overstating the importance and impact of the Occupy Movements is another jaw dropper. To the extent that President Obama and other left wing politicians can tap into the streak of class warfare politics that permeates that movement, it will no doubt be a successful electoral strategy to varying degrees. But once in power — and this is especially true in Europe — those left wing parties and politicians are going to discover that blaming the big banks and large corporations for their plight doesn’t do a bit of good when budgets are so out of whack and debt impossible to finance.

Hope is a fine thing. It’s companion virtues of faith and charity are what make the world livable. But trying to apply virtuous thinking to the truly frightening realities of the modern world might be expected of high school or college students — not world class scientists.