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Doomsday Clock is a crock

Professor Stephen Hawking delivers his speech at the release of the 'Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' on Jan. 17, 2007 in London.
Professor Stephen Hawking delivers his speech at the release of the 'Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' on Jan. 17, 2007 in London.
Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

When an evangelical Christian says something along the lines of, "I believe Jesus Christ will return in my lifetime," the statement is treated, at best, as at least slightly eccentric.

When, however, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists releases its annual Doomsday Clock, announcing how close we are to annihilation, the pronouncement is treated with reverential headlines.

"It is five minutes to midnight," the scientists said Tuesday. "Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed. For that reason, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving the clock hand one minute closer to midnight, back to its time in 2007."

The three major areas of concern to the scientists are:

  • "The potential for nuclear weapons use in regional conflicts in the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and particularly in South Asia is also alarming. Ongoing efforts to ease tensions, deal with extremism and terrorist acts, and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in international relations have had only halting success. Yet we believe that international diplomatic pressure as well as burgeoning citizen action will help political leaders to see the folly of continuing to rely on nuclear weapons for national security."
  • "A major question to be addressed is: How can complex systems like nuclear power stations be made less susceptible to accidents and errors in judgment?"
  • "In fact, the global community may be near a point of no return in efforts to prevent catastrophe from changes in Earth's atmosphere."

My thoughts on their concerns:

  • The scientists underestimate the monitoring and determination of both major and minor powers, working together to prevent nuclear holocaust. It is a joint effort of the United Nations, armed services and intelligence communities and there is no evidence the guards are not on duty. It is simply a fact that Iran, as one example, will not be allowed to become a nuclear power.
  • Nuclear power isn't my favorite source, but questions of safety are best handled by scientists themselves with adequate oversight. The suggestion that scientists can't do it is an appalling self-condemnation by scientists.
  • Climate change? I don't want to get angry mail for the next 30 years, but a) the theory is in serious question and b) we're getting greener than the scientists acknowledge.

The scientists' annual politically biased end-of-the-world statements should be renamed the Doomsday Crock.

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