Global warming nudges Doomsday Clock towards midnight

Climate change is as great a threat to the world as international terrorism and nuclear war, Professor Stephen Hawking said yesterday. ...

“As scientists, we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and their devastating effects, and we are learning how human activities and techno- logies are affecting climate systems in ways that may for ever change life on Earth. “As citizens of the world, we have a duty to alert the public to the unnecessary risks that we live with every day, and to the perils we foresee if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change.”

The Doomsday Clock is operated by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) and has been adjusted only 17 times in its 60-year history, most recently in 2002 when it was advanced to seven minutes to midnight after the events of September 11, 2001, and the US withdrawal from the Anti- Ballistic Missile Treaty. “The dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons,” the BAS said. “The effects may be less dramatic in the short term than the destruction that could be wrought by nuclear explosions, but over the next three to four decades climate change could cause irremediable harm to the habitats upon which human societies depend for survival.” ...

It's five minutes to Armageddon, and Hawking tells the world to wake up . . .

From the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' website:

Global warming poses a dire threat to human civilization that is second only to nuclear weapons. The most authoritative scientific group on these issues, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has concluded, “Most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.” Carbon dioxide, principally from fossil fuel burning, has been accumulating in the atmosphere, where it acts like a blanket keeping Earth warm and heating up its surface, ocean, and atmosphere. As a result, current levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are higher than at any time during the last 650,000 years. Observations of changes in the atmosphere, on land, in the oceans, in glaciers, and in polar ice cores have led to worldwide scientific consensus about the causes of climate change. The most distinguished scientific bodies in the United States, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have come to conclusions similar to those of the IPCC.

Disruptions in climate already appear to be happening faster in some regions than earlier predicted. In some areas warming has interrupted normal patterns, allowing insects to spread into new habitats, carrying diseases and destroying flora and fauna in zones that have no evolutionary protection. Through flooding or desertification, climate change threatens the habitats and agricultural resources that societies depend upon for survival. Coral reefs will disappear, forest fires will be more intense and more frequent, and heat waves and storms more damaging. In coming years, coastal cities will bear the brunt of sea-level rise, as we have already witnessed in New Orleans, compelling major shifts in human settlement patterns. As such, climate change is also likely to contribute to mass migrations and even to wars over arable land, water, and other natural resources. ...

The Clock is ticking.

5 Minutes to Midnight > Board Statement

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