Do you know the time?
January 22, 2015 5:54 AM   Subscribe

 
It's unlikely to be good news. I suspect that the breakdown in US-Russian cooperation on nuclear materials security is going to be deemed worth a tick in the bad direction all by itself.
posted by firechicago at 6:06 AM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hurm.
posted by DiscountDeity at 6:06 AM on January 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


For reference, the earliest the clock has ever been set is 17 minutes to midnight -- that was back in '91 with the fall of the Soviet Union.
posted by BurntHombre at 6:11 AM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Including climate change seems a bit weird. Not that it's not a threat, but it seems like it would be hours to midnight on that front.
posted by smackfu at 6:14 AM on January 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't know, it depends how you interpret midnight.

By some reckonings carbon emissions have reached the point where catastrophic climate change is largely inevitable.

Do we still count it as before midnight if the missiles are in flight and nobody knows how to shoot them down?
posted by Dext at 6:32 AM on January 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


yeah, it's 9:34.
posted by rebent at 6:34 AM on January 22, 2015


What does it look like? I hope it's a big mad Giger-esque affair with all skellingtons and the like.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:36 AM on January 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I hope it's a big mad Giger-esque affair with all skellingtons and the like.

They don't actually reset the hands. The hands reset themselves after the sacrifice of the prognosticating child is successfully completed. The sacrifice is not televised because the clock... well... let's say it is not convenient to describe.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:41 AM on January 22, 2015 [29 favorites]


Seems kind of a silly exercise at this point.
posted by empath at 6:44 AM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm terrible.

The first thing I thought was "What's the time? It's Def. Con. One! Say, what's the time? Just get me some Big Mac, fries to go, gimme Big Mac, fries to go! Gimme Big Mac, fries to go, gimme Big Mac, gimme fries to go!"



Ok, that's enough coffee for today.
posted by droplet at 6:49 AM on January 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


Maybe this is the year they will finally admit that this thing works more like a "threat level" system than a clock, and that the clock metaphor has outlived its usefulness. It probably made sense, in the 1940s, to visualize "doomsday" as a single abrupt event, but the global threats that seem most real today (climate change, economic collapse, pumpkin spice) are more gradual and systemic. And the "annual clock adjustment" schtick undermines the clock concept anyway. I suppose Doomsday Timer doesn't sound as ominous.

The biggest difference between a clock and a "threat level" is that the clock implies that doomsday is inevitable, which I suppose is true in the long term. But emphasizing that inevitability doesn't seem particularly helpful in encouraging policy change.
posted by oulipian at 6:49 AM on January 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


See, this seems like a textbook example of a mission creep. What the hell does global warming have to do about the threat of nuclear war? And does anyone really think the risk of nuclear doomsday today is anywhere close to where it was in, say 1983?

There's lots of important issues struggling for our limited attention in the world today, and all the Doomsday Clock seems to signal to me today is an example of a single issue nonprofit creating alarm fatigue.

on edit: yeah, seconding empath and oulipian
posted by leotrotsky at 6:52 AM on January 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think it's funny it went five minutes earlier from 1960 to 1963, the period that contained the Cuban Missile Crisis. And that it is currently is set later than both of those times.
posted by smackfu at 6:52 AM on January 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


I can't wait to see how Fox News spins this to place total blame on Obama. Well, maybe I can wait. Still, the spin will probably be pretty mind-meltingly astounding.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:55 AM on January 22, 2015


YEah they need to set if for like 6:45 and say, "There are plenty of problems, but we don't think the world will end this year."
posted by Mister_A at 7:03 AM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can easily see how climate change could be a factor. Wars are usually fought over resources, and climate change threatens to make all manner of critical resources, everything from clean water to food to living space, in shorter supply. How can there not be a risk of war over the resources that climate change threatens?
posted by sotonohito at 7:13 AM on January 22, 2015 [12 favorites]


The clock is a gimmick and it works. It gets the media to highlight their concerns and agenda.
posted by thelonius at 7:20 AM on January 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Maybe this is the year they will finally admit that this thing works more like a "threat level" system than a clock, and that the clock metaphor has outlived its usefulness. It probably made sense, in the 1940s, to visualize "doomsday" as a single abrupt event, but the global threats that seem most real today (climate change, economic collapse, pumpkin spice) are more gradual and systemic.

Point! So what will it be, the Doomsday Fuse? The Doomsday Cup?
posted by ipsative at 7:23 AM on January 22, 2015


Including climate change seems a bit weird. Not that it's not a threat, but it seems like it would be hours to midnight on that front.

From the Pentagon's annual report on climate change (PDF):
Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.

In our defense strategy, we refer to climate change as a “threat multiplier” because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we are dealing with today – from infectious disease to terrorism. We are already beginning to see some of these impacts.
For instance, there's the likelihood of the Arctic territory turning into a hot zone, literally and metaphorically, this century...
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:24 AM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ooh it'll be Uganda vs. House Slytherin for the Doomsday Cup this year!
posted by Mister_A at 7:25 AM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Point! So what will it be, the Doomsday Fuse? The Doomsday Cup?

What you need is a doomsday rainbow. Fill in each colour as the threat proximity increases, and make them brighter for the threat immenence (so nuclear war is bright but not so full, environmental collapse is full, but fainter).
posted by YAMWAK at 7:26 AM on January 22, 2015



Ooh it'll be Uganda vs. House Slytherin for the Doomsday Cup this year!


I meant in the proverbial last-drop-that-spilled-the-cup sense. But I'd watch that for sure.

What you need is a doomsday rainbow.

Or a doomsday kitten with a purr-meow-grr continuum and hairyness to measure threat imminence!
posted by ipsative at 7:37 AM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Nuclear winter is one way to reverse climate change.

Not a good way perhaps, but probably pretty effective for a decade or so.
posted by bonehead at 7:40 AM on January 22, 2015


Eponysterical.

(No offense, bonehead.)
posted by kelborel at 7:43 AM on January 22, 2015


> "What does it look like? I hope it's a big mad Giger-esque affair with all skellingtons and the like."

Ooo, I vote for this one! It's just covered in creepies! (last image possibly NSFW)
posted by kyrademon at 7:46 AM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


None taken, I assure you. You just need to channel Teller and these sorts of solutions come naturally.
posted by bonehead at 7:49 AM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Point! So what will it be, the Doomsday Fuse? The Doomsday Cup?

The Doomsday Pitch Drop.
posted by phunniemee at 8:05 AM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


3 minutes to midnight. Called it! First round on me tonight!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:07 AM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ugh, I can't get the damned livestream to work. :(
posted by sperose at 8:10 AM on January 22, 2015


Does anyone else feel like they're saying "Look at me, I'm still relevant! No, really!" now that the Cold War is over?
posted by Anne Neville at 8:17 AM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


In an attempt to make people feel better each tick mark on the clock face has been labeled "PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME!!!"
posted by Hairy Lobster at 8:17 AM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


now that the Cold War is over?

o_O
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:22 AM on January 22, 2015


Ugh, please take back this Bloomsday Clock, scientists. I do not want it.
posted by angerbot at 8:22 AM on January 22, 2015


GallonOfAlan: "What does it look like? I hope it's a big mad Giger-esque affair with all skellingtons and the like."

I attended this one year in high school!

It looks like a bunch of dudes in suits in a small lecture hall talking a lot to an audience of press and mostly-disinterested high school students, and then moving the hands on a fake clock.

It was a good field trip, though; we got out of class all day and had McDonald's for lunch in exchange for maybe an hour of tedium at a press conference. A+++, would field trip again.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:30 AM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Here's the actual stream, finally: http://thebulletin.org/multimedia/it-3-minutes-midnight
posted by sperose at 8:30 AM on January 22, 2015


Whacked out contrarian viewpoint: a few carefully placed and designed nukes could solve global warming. Blast a a bunch of dust into the upper atmosphere could cool down the world significantly. Careful design to minimize the radiation. Nuking a few of the most insanely huge fishing fleets that are raping the ocean fish populations would be a net benefit also.
posted by sammyo at 8:39 AM on January 22, 2015


It was a good field trip, though; we got out of class all day and had McDonald's for lunch in exchange for maybe an hour of tedium at a press conference.

You had to eat McD's for lunch? That sounds dreadful.
posted by sour cream at 8:40 AM on January 22, 2015


2015: IT IS 3 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT
Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.” Despite some modestly positive developments in the climate change arena, current efforts are entirely insufficient to prevent a catastrophic warming of Earth. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia have embarked on massive programs to modernize their nuclear triads—thereby undermining existing nuclear weapons treaties. "The clock ticks now at just three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty—ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization."
posted by ipsative at 8:45 AM on January 22, 2015


This seems poorly planned at their end — why haven't the clock and slogan in the banner atop their website changed from 5 minutes to 3 minutes? While typing that, they just changed, an hour late.
posted by beagle at 9:03 AM on January 22, 2015


It's not an hour late, you haven't adjusted for World Saving Time.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:05 AM on January 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


something the conflict in the ukraine has highlighted is what is perhaps the most dangerous legacy of the Reagan administration: Americans don't understand that there is no such thing as a "conventional" war between nuclear armed powers.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:13 AM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Presumably these "scientists" have a time-machine to verify their precise prediction of future risk? Oh right, it's all bollocks.
posted by w0mbat at 9:24 AM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is thoroughly stupid. We are not at the same risk of "Doomsday" as the mid 1980s.
posted by smackfu at 9:30 AM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is this a good place to post about Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser

Also this is my first post.
posted by adept256 at 9:35 AM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Are we sure it isn't two minutes to midnight?
posted by Groundhog Week at 9:35 AM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


something the conflict in the ukraine has highlighted is what is perhaps the most dangerous legacy of the Reagan administration: Americans don't understand that there is no such thing as a "conventional" war between nuclear armed powers.

Uh yes there is. There is no such thing as a conventional total war by nuclear powers. Big difference.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:41 AM on January 22, 2015


Maybe their is no cold war anymore. But there may be a non-linear war.
posted by adept256 at 9:48 AM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Uh yes there is. There is no such thing as a conventional total war by nuclear powers. Big difference.

but this is exactly what I am talking about. The Reagan administration successfully programmed the american public to have this very nebulous idea of war. are we already at war with Putin's Russia? Was our invasion of Iraq a war? Are we at war with IS? Are we at war with drugs? nonlinear war?

what are you talking about? the only counter-example of this would be the SIno-Soviet border disputes. the idea that there could be a limited conventional conflict between the US and the USSR Russia is a dangerous fantasy. it goes against decades of war games *within* the Pentagon.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:14 AM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Golden goose, still in season.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:32 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


The first thing I thought was "What's the time? It's Def. Con. One! Say, what's the time? Just get me some Big Mac, fries to go, gimme Big Mac, fries to go! Gimme Big Mac, fries to go, gimme Big Mac, gimme fries to go!"

"Wake up! Time to die!"
posted by DrAstroZoom at 12:43 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


However, after reading a correction issued by UK newspaper The Sun that - contrary to reports earlier this week - photos of topless women would continue to be featured on page 3, they quietly set the hand back again.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:58 PM on January 22, 2015


that the clock metaphor has outlived its usefulness.

"My father was a watch maker. He abandoned it when Einstein discovered time is relative. I would only agree that a symbolic clock is as nourishing to the intellect as photograph of oxygen to a drowning man."
posted by radwolf76 at 4:01 PM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Time? It's time to do some yoga, huh?
posted by ob1quixote at 9:33 PM on January 22, 2015


I for one don't see this as frivolous. It's just that for the past two or three decades the Cold War has died down, and we associate the threat of nuclear war with the Cold War, period. Those too young to even remember the Cold War don't even have the vague memories of how scary the nuclear threat was.

Politics change. Nations change. Those weapons stay weapons. That killpower is still there.

In a different political climate, one fraught with tension--say, a world in which even modern nations see economies tumble due to economic depression, or climate change, or simply the Way Things Eventually Tend to Go...in that world, threat of nuclear weapons will again become a nation's legitimate, necessary (?) response to conflict. Another cold war could absolutely happen, and because mankind as a whole is kind of idiotic, another cold war, on a long enough time line, absolutely will happen.

Then it's just a matter of time before someone flinches and kaboom. There are several times during the Cold War that people got nervous with their finger on the trigger, or things just fucked up, and luckily cooler heads prevailed.
posted by zardoz at 2:14 AM on January 23, 2015


I can't wait to see how Fox News spins this to place total blame on Obama. Well, maybe I can wait. Still, the spin will probably be pretty mind-meltingly astounding.

They will totally ignore the climate change parts and say it's all because Obama is too soft on Putin.
posted by ymgve at 5:21 AM on January 23, 2015


the only counter-example of this would be the SIno-Soviet border disputes.

We fought a bunch of proxy wars with the chinese and soviets.
posted by empath at 7:01 AM on January 23, 2015


So Far, 2015 Is Pure Dystopia
posted by homunculus at 6:26 PM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


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