This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Doomsday Clock. As always, there is a wealth of useful information to be found on Wikipedia. In the case of the main Doomsday Clock entry, the introductory material reads as follows:
The Doomsday Clock is a symbol that represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. Maintained since 1947 by the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the clock is a metaphor for threats to humanity from unchecked scientific and technical advances. The clock represents the hypothetical global catastrophe as midnight and the Bulletin’s opinion on how close the world is to a global catastrophe as a number of minutes or seconds to midnight, assessed in January of each year. The main factors influencing the clock are nuclear risk and climate change. The Bulletin’s Science and Security Board monitors new developments in the life sciences and technology that could inflict irrevocable harm to humanity.
The clock’s original setting in 1947 was seven minutes to midnight. It has been set backward and forward 24 times since, the farthest from midnight being 17 minutes in 1991, and the nearest being 100 seconds in 2020 and 2021.
I have good news and bad news. The good news is that, from a Doomsday Clock perspective, things aren’t any worse than they were last year.
The bad news is that the clock is still set to only 100 seconds to midnight (I’m sure it won’t be long before the final part of the above Wikipedia quote is modified to read “…100 seconds in 2020, 2021, and 2022.”). Considering the fact that there are 86,400 seconds in a day, this is way too close for comfort.
To be honest, it makes me want to cry that we are so stupid as a species to let things get to this stage. In many ways we have so much potential. When I’m feeling positive, I dare to hope that we are destined for the stars. By comparison, on days like today, I fear we are fated to plant our faces back into the mud from whence we came (in my case this would be mud from Yorkshire, England, which is the best mud in the world, but that really doesn’t make me feel much better).
When I look at human-made problems like pollution in general, plastic pollution in particular, and of course — climate change; and when you consider what the leaders in countries like China, North Korea, and Russia are doing; and when you pause to ponder the fact that we are currently in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, and we (in the wealthier countries) have access to vaccines that mitigate things, and that around 1/3 of us are too stupid (no offence) to take them… my heart breaks.