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Doomsday Clock Moves Closer to Midnight

The world is nudging closer to nuclear or environmental apocalypse, a group of prominent scientists warned Wednesday as it pushed the hand of its symbolic Doomsday Clock closer to midnight.

The clock, which was set two minutes forward to 11:55, represents the likelihood of a global cataclysm. Its ticks have given the clock's keepers a chance to speak out on the dangers they see threatening Earth.

It was the fourth time since the Soviet collapse in 1991 that the clock ticked forward amid fears over what the scientists describe as "a second nuclear age" prompted largely by standoffs with Iran and North Korea. But urgent warnings of climate change also played a role.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which sets the clock, was founded in 1945 as a newsletter distributed among nuclear physicists concerned about nuclear war, and midnight originally symbolized a widespread nuclear conflict. The bulletin has grown into an organization focused more generally on manmade threats to human civilization.

"The dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons," said Kennette Benedict, director of the bulletin.

Stephen W. Hawking, the renowned cosmologist and mathematician, told The Associated Press that global warming has eclipsed other threats to the planet, such as terrorism.

"Terror only kills hundreds or thousands of people," Hawking said. "Global warming could kill millions. We should have a war on global warming rather than the war on terror."

This is the first time the bulletin has explicitly addressed the threat from climate change.

"We are transforming, even ravaging the entire biosphere. These environmentally driven threats - threats without enemies - should loom as large as did the East-West divide during the Cold War era," said Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, Britain's academy of science.

"Unless they rise higher on international agendas, remedial action may come too late," he added.

There is no actual Doomsday Clock in keeping with the bulletin's symbolic exercise. But the group has used several makeshift clocks or replicas over the years in logos, images and publications.

Since it was set to seven minutes to midnight in 1947, the Doomsday Clock has been moved 18 times, including Wednesday's adjustment. It came closest to midnight - just two minutes away - in 1953 after the successful test of a hydrogen bomb by the United States. It has been as far away as 17 minutes, set there in 1991 following the demise of the Soviet Union.

The decision to move the clock is made by the bulletin's board, composed of scientists and policy experts, in coordination with the group's sponsors, who include Hawking and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke.

Despite the organization's new focus on global warming, the prospect of nuclear war remained its primary concern, the bulletin's editor, Mark Strauss, told The AP.

"It's important to emphasize 50 of today's nuclear weapons could kill 200 million people," he said.

The organization floated a variety of proposals to help control the threat of nuclear proliferation and repeated a call to nuclear nations to whittle down their arsenals and reduce the launch readiness of their weapons.

Panelist Lawrence Krauss, a physics professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, criticized the use of military means to deal with nuclear proliferation and emphasized the use of diplomacy.

"If we want to address proliferation we want to do it in a unified way, and not with the sole country acting pre-emptively," he said.

(emphasis added, mine)

How about we remove the batteries from this obsolete clock?

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Well, I for one think it is about time. I'm glad that they are finally taking the threat of global cooling seriously!

That's snow! (From today's "Photo Gallery" of NBC4.TV in Los Angeles.)

Isn't it amazing how these people put on special binoculars that only zoom in on convenient facts, while leaving them blind against the real "Inconvenient Truth"?

I was in Canada over Christmas and a cab-driver made a comment that he thought their complete lack of snow this winter season was because of Global Warming. I doubt he would ever consider it significant that later I spoke to my father on the phone, and was told a story about how his friend George got 18in of snow while visiting his mother in Mexico that very same week!

And it is no surprise to me that Stephen Hawking supports Global Warming... :)

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"The dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons," said Kennette Benedict, director of the bulletin.

Let's see, on the one hand we have devices that can incinerate millions of people in seconds. On the other hand, we have a phenomenon which may not be occurring, but if it is, it will gradually flood some coastal regions over a 100 year period. Sure, they sound like comparable threats!

Stephen W. Hawking, the renowned cosmologist and mathematician, told The Associated Press that global warming has eclipsed other threats to the planet, such as terrorism.

Gee, if his knowledge of climate science and politics is this good, he must be a really good cosmologist.

"Terror only kills hundreds or thousands of people," Hawking said. "Global warming could kill millions. We should have a war on global warming rather than the war on terror."

Yes, global warming - that is the war I would rather fight now than the terrorists. Hell, the terrorists haven't even personally attacked me, but I can feel this warm weather all around me. It's scary!

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----------

Yes, global warming - that is the war I would rather fight now than the terrorists. Hell, the terrorists haven't even personally attacked me, but I can feel this warm weather all around me. It's scary!

Maybe what we need to do is tie global warming to the terrorists and then we can kill two birds with one war!! Anyone have any ideas that could be sent to Hawking for his consideration?

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Maybe what we need to do is tie global warming to the terrorists and then we can kill two birds with one war!! Anyone have any ideas that could be sent to Hawking for his consideration?

The terrorists are getting you hot and bothered? :)

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I doubt he would ever consider it significant that later I spoke to my father on the phone, and was told a story about how his friend George got 18in of snow while visiting his mother in Mexico that very same week!

Snow in Mexico has been known by Scientists™ as a common indicator of global warming for centuries now. In fact, the more snow, the more pronounced the warming. *Scientists is a registered trademark of Al Gore.

On a more serious, but equally rediculous note, I had a classmate in an online class who actually claimed that global warming caused shifts in the Earth's magnetic field. These shifts proceeded to cause a greater amount of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, which are the result of human activities of course. :)

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On a more serious, but equally rediculous note, I had a classmate in an online class who actually claimed that global warming caused shifts in the Earth's magnetic field. These shifts proceeded to cause a greater amount of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, which are the result of human activities of course. :)

Clearly, human activity is cooling that billion zillion tons of molten iron at the Earth's core. :)

That magnetic field's strength and direction vary naturally; as I understand it, the field actually flips its polarity once every so many centuries.

JohnRGT

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And it is no surprise to me that Stephen Hawking supports Global Warming... :)

As a continuation on this thought, I have to seriously ask, what really has Stephen Hawking done in terms of being a Physicist? I admire him for facing his debilitating disease with optimism and courage, and "A Brief History of Time" was amazing, but what really has he done to earn the title of being King of Kings amongst modern day Physicists? The only notable theories he has famously put forward (that I know of) all sound like off-the-deep-end Theoretical Physics garbage that will never amount to anything. Why is he held in such god-like esteem?

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On a more serious, but equally rediculous note, I had a classmate in an online class who actually claimed that global warming caused shifts in the Earth's magnetic field. These shifts proceeded to cause a greater amount of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, which are the result of human activities of course. :)

Did this guy study in Egypt?

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Clearly, human activity is cooling that billion zillion tons of molten iron at the Earth's core. :)

That magnetic field's strength and direction vary naturally; as I understand it, the field actually flips its polarity once every so many centuries.

JohnRGT

That last phrase should read "once every so many millennia."

JohnRGT

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... I spoke to my father on the phone, and was told a story about how his friend George got 18in of snow while visiting his mother in Mexico that very same week!

Hey, we're having the worst ice storm in 4 years in Oklahoma. The parking lot at the apartment complex in which I'm living has a plate of ice about 3-4" thick and we're expecting 6" of snow this weekend on top of that. Kids are ice-skating over their lawns. I looked like Charlie Chaplin this morning, trying to get into my car, holding the door, while slipping under it, sideways, and back... We could use some global warming right now.

And it is no surprise to me that Stephen Hawking supports Global Warming... :)

I know you meant the opposite & this is a typo... he opposes Global Warming. He wants us to declare war on it. Send ground troops... I suggest negotiating with it, giving it foreign aid, Most Favored Climate status...

This, of course, is his area of expertise, because he's a theoretical physicist who based his observations on models and has now declared that the model was wrong and his theory is probably wrong. A very brilliant man, but a Rationalist. No wonder he supports a theory that hangs on computer models with arbitrarily simplified constraints and boundary conditions.

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Maybe season 7 of 24 will involve Jack Bauer fighting global warming rather than terrorists. Somehow, I don't think that would make for a very interesting story line.

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As a continuation on this thought, I have to seriously ask, what really has Stephen Hawking done in terms of being a Physicist?

...

Why is he held in such god-like esteem?

By the media and the uneducated public, he may be, but I don't think that his peers put him anywhere near the top of the pyramid.

Maybe season 7 of 24 will involve Jack Bauer fighting global warming rather than terrorists. Somehow, I don't think that would make for a very interesting story line.

What should happen is to have Jack Bauer fight eco-terrorists. Now, that would be quite something!

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Hey, we're having the worst ice storm in 4 years in Oklahoma. The parking lot at the apartment complex in which I'm living has a plate of ice about 3-4" thick and we're expecting 6" of snow this weekend on top of that. Kids are ice-skating over their lawns. I looked like Charlie Chaplin this morning, trying to get into my car, holding the door, while slipping under it, sideways, and back...

I consider ice-rain coated streets to be undriveable. Consider the almost complete lack of traction of your tires when you can't even stand up on the road (unless you have metal studded tires). Not unreasonable to just stay home under such circumstances unless you have alternate transportation.

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What should happen is to have Jack Bauer fight eco-terrorists. Now, that would be quite something!

Tom Clancy's novel Rainbox Six would be a good template for that, since it involves a counter-terrorism group going after an eco-terrorist group that's planning to release a virus that will kill virtually everyone. It would take somebody who wasn't scared of attacking the environmentalists though.

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It would take somebody who wasn't scared of attacking the environmentalists though.

Wow, that lets out all of Hollywood, and most of the government and media.

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