The Famed ‘Doomsday Clock’ Is About Climate Alarm, Not Nuclear War
“Closer to ‘Doomsday’ Than Any Year Since ’59” screamed a headline in the Huffington Post.
The story, and many others like it, pointed to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ famous “Doomsday Clock,” which is supposed to be a reliable indicator of the risk the world faces of a nuclear war.
The clock shows how many minutes there are until midnight, i.e., doomsday. In 2017, the group moved it to 2.5 minutes to midnight, 30 seconds closer than it was the year before.
In 2018, it ticked another 30-seconds closer. And in the just-related update, it remained stuck at 2 minutes to doomsday. That’s the closest it’s been since 1953. The Bulletin calls it “the new abnormal.”
“The future of the world is now in extreme danger from multiple intersecting and potentially existential threats,” the latest report states.
When the Doomsday Clock launched in 1947, the initial setting was seven minutes to midnight. Since then, it’s gone up and down. The furthest it got from doomsday was 17 minutes in 1991.
It’s About Politics, Not Science
But it’s clear from its movements over the past seven decades that the Doomsday Clock is more about politics than any sort of scientific measure of the risk of nuclear annihilation.
After all, the Clock routinely counted down after a Republican wins the White House, and ticked up when Democrats reclaim the presidency.
It moved a minute closer to midnight when Eisenhower took office, and four minutes closer to doomsday under Reagan. It ticked down four minutes while George W. Bush was president.
In contrast, the scientists moved the clock way back during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, kept it at an above-average level for Carter’s term in office, and set it at historic highs for much of Clinton’s eight years.
Since 1947, in fact, the Doomsday Clock has averaged 6.4 minutes to midnight during Republican administrations, compared with 8.3 minutes during Democratic ones.
And when you look at the reasons for the scientists’ concern, they turn out to make no sense, either.
The clock, for example, took a nose-dive under Reagan, moving from 7 minutes under Carter to 3 minutes by the end of Reagan’s first term.
The rationale: Reagan’s alleged warmongering stance against the Soviet Union and his unwillingness to sign meaningless arms control deals.
But by 1991, the scientists reset the clock to 17 minutes, the furthest from midnight it’s ever been. Why? Because the Soviet Union had collapsed — a development largely credited to Reagan’s tough stance against global communism.
In other words, the scientists behind the Doomsday Clock got it exactly wrong. Appeasement made the world less safe, and Reagan’s anti-communist policies made it safer than it’s ever been since the Atomic Age began.
Plus, does anyone really believe we are 64% closer to global destruction today than we were during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962?
Further evidence that the clock has become utterly meaningless is the decision to add climate change as an indicator in 2007.
Suddenly, the clock started ticking down again because of perceived “lack of progress” on reducing carbon emissions.
But the idea that climate change will destroy mankind isn’t scientific, it’s merely speculative. And it assumes, wrongly, that mankind won’t be able to adapt to a slightly warmer planet.
Even those who believe in climate-change doomsday scenarios admit that they are a century away, which hardly makes it an immediate threat, unlike, say, a nuclear-armed Iran.
In the latest update, the scientists further tarnish the Doomsday Clock by adding in the latest liberal hang-ups about “fake news.”
The new bulletin complains that “nationalist leaders and their surrogates lied shamelessly, insisting that their lies were truth, and the truth ‘fake news’.”
This isn’t science. This a screed against President Trump.
The explanation of the clock’s current setting goes on to name the standard list of Trump’s alleged failings.
The only thing missing is a complaint about Trump’s immigration policies. (Maybe the atomic scientists will add that to their doomsday list next year.)
There’ no doubt that many on the left view the Trump administration as an existential threat to mankind. But that doesn’t mean there’s any scientific basis for those fears.
The Doomsday Clock has turned out to be a more reliable measure of liberal angst than any actual risk of doomsday, and it should be treated as such.
Read more at IBD
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