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Friday, May 22, 2009

The End Is Nigh!

It is now five minutes until midnight, midnight for the human race, as the link associated with the title of this blog indicates. Midnight, of course, represents total darkness, the end of life, or, at least, the end of human life. Cockroaches will, of course, survive whatever damage we do to the planet.

The clock in question is offered up by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and began "ticking" in 1947 and gave us just 7 minutes to live:
As the Bulletin evolves from a newsletter into a magazine, the Clock appears on the cover for the first time. It symbolizes the urgency of the nuclear dangers that the magazine's founders--and the broader scientific community--are trying to convey to the public and political leaders around the world.
This clock doesn't tick and actually doesn't even count down. After dropping to 2 minutes in 1952, it soared to 12 minutes in 1963. It then had plummeted to 3 minutes in 1984
U.S.-Soviet relations reach their iciest point in decades. Dialogue between the two superpowers virtually stops. "Every channel of communications has been constricted or shut down; every form of contact has been attenuated or cut off. And arms control negotiations have been reduced to a species of propaganda," a concerned Bulletin informs readers. The United States seems to flout the few arms control agreements in place by seeking an expansive, space-based anti-ballistic missile capability, raising worries that a new arms race will begin.
It then bounced up to an optimistic 17 minutes in 1991 but since then has been falling to 14, and then 9, and then 7, and now 5. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was the cause of the jump to 17 minutes. It began to fall again during the Clinton administration with the 9 minutes left "prediction" being due both to some tough talk about Russia reverting to the ways of its past and to the beginning of concerns about terrorists getting ahold of nuclear weapons. At the time of the next drop, Pakistan and India were testing nuclear weapons. Then comes a post 9/11 prediction that we had only 7 minutes to survive when the Bush Administration was talking about developing nuclear weapons capable of taking out hardened, deeply buried targets (e. g., the underground nuclear labs in Iran) as well as an announcing that the US would withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

The drop to 5 minutes in 2007 is due to concerns about N. Korea's and Iran's development of nuclear weapons and a concern with global warming.
Climate change also presents a dire challenge to humanity. Damage to ecosystems is already taking place; flooding, destructive storms, increased drought, and polar ice melt are causing loss of life and property.
While one might want to grant atomic physicists a certain expertise in the area of nuclear threats in the world, I am not at all sure that they have any special expertise as to whether or not there is global warming, not that I doubt that that there is, to say nothing of what threats it imposes or how imminent they are.

The clock of the physicists has no predictive power. It doesn't even count down the way any respectable clock does. It is like the wall clock I hear ticking right now which is powered by two descending heavy weights and which runs out when the weights touch the floor and cannot descend further. We have to reset it constantly due to our inattention to its needs and, somewhat like the clock of our atomic scientists, we have to turn it backward to reset the time. A clock that goes back and forth is no clock at all. I keep threatening to shoot this clock but my wife would have me committed to a mental hospital. I am not yet ready for that.

Much more interesting is the notion that the world will end on December 22, 2012 when the Mayan calendar runs out. I cannot say whether any Mayans think the world will end then but religious crazies are happy to tell us that the Rapture is nigh upon us. Maybe. It seems that their Doomsday Clock is a bit like that of the atomic physicists.
Bible Prophecy is driven by human free will and the evil path that nations choose. Free will can accelerate us or slow us down to the inevitable: The Apocalypse, The Great Tribulation, the "Time of Testing".
So it too can back up as well as go forward.

The author of this colorful and entertaining page gave a time frame between
"SEPT 2006 and DEC 22 2012 AD." We lucked out and survived past the 2006 date. Can we make it into 2013? I think not. "13" is an unlucky number after all.

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5 Comments:

Blogger SusieQ said...

Now wait a minute. Obama will get re-elected and begin his second term in 2013. The world can't end then. He will forbid it. Or Congress will pass a law making it illegal for the world to end.

Seriously, if you think we are doomed and have no control over it and the magic year is 2013, then what can I say except let us eat, drink, and be merry until then.

When I was a child I attended a Catholic grade school where we were taught that the end of the world was coming and soon within a few years. Surprisingly, that news did not really scare me, because I did not really believe it.

Glad to see you are back in the blogging business. Welcome back!

1:00 PM

 
Blogger The Language Guy said...

Thank you, SusieQ. We are doomed. 5 billion years from now, if not sooner.

1:05 PM

 
Blogger SusieQ said...

Thank you LG. I did not say we are doomed. You were the one who implied it. If, according to your "newest" calculation, we only have 5 billion years left before it comes to an end, let's not waste any time getting to that eating, drinking, and being merry.

1:52 PM

 
Blogger concerned citizen said...

As long as the majority of us ignore the superstitious, scoff at the doom & naysayers, and keep our chins up, the human race will survive.
The past is only hindsight.
What we don't know yet, we will know in the future.
It is important that we have faith in ourselves as human beings.

10:09 PM

 
Blogger Rita said...

I think the human race has enough common sense not to trivialize life & death concerns. It's a complicated world for sure, but so far we have proved that we are up to it.

11:47 PM

 

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