A few seconds closer to Midnight?
January 26, 2016 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Today The Doomsday Clock will have its time recalibrated. In 2015 the scientists set the hands to 23.57 - "due to climate change, the modernization of nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia, and the problem of nuclear waste." Is the apocalypse closer or further away? Watch the result live at 13.30 EST. There's really only one way it can go.
posted by 0bvious (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oh Christ, these wankers again! If they'd conceded that 11pm was also pretty close to midnight back around 1990, maybe they'd have enough headroom to avoid looking eternally alarmist.
posted by wotsac at 7:10 AM on January 26, 2016 [11 favorites]

That's sort of irrelevant? Nuclear Waste isn't going to suddenly wipe out the human race. Neither is climate change, though it may well be.

The point of the Doomsday Clock was "This is our chance of a major global thermonuclear war destroying human civilization."

If they move it up -- it's at 3 minutes to midnight -- they're saying either that the chance of human civilization ending suddenly is exactly the same as it was when the US and USSR were trading multi-megaton nuclear tests (two minutes before) or the most likely it has ever been (one minute before). Or, I guess, that we've already died (midnight.)

This is just another example of how anything describing something really bad becomes weakened by putting things into the same category that just aren't. Someone writing a letter to the police about you is not swatting them. Chemical weapons are orders of magnitude less destructive than nuclear weapons -- or hell, modern bombers, which in 1945 destroyed multiple square miles of Tokyo and killed more than Hiroshima or Nagasaki did, and those all fade to meaningless when multistage weapons can make fireballs as big as cities. Every shooting become "terrorism." Putting everything into Very Bad means you don't have a scale of 1-10, you have a scale of 1 -- Very Doomed.

Which is, of course, useless.

We are not at two minutes to midnight. Everybody except North Korea is very carefully staying the fuck away from the big strike, and if managed to wreck Seoul with a nuclear device, it would die -- quickly and completely -- but it would not trigger the US/UK/France/Russia/China into emptying the silos and ending civilization.

ISIS is not going to kill you, and I say that to 99.99999% confidence. Unless you live in Syria, in which case, yeah, shave off three-four of those nines, or Iraq, in which case, you might be down to 95%.

We have enough problems as is. Declaring *EVERYTHING* to be doom means that people just say "Well, we're fucking doomed. I'm not going to do anything about it, we're doomed."

We're not doomed -- unless we *all* pretend that we are. Then we are royally fucked.

They should set this number to where it belongs -- somewhere at 20 minutes before -- because the chances of an actual full nuclear exchange amongst the nuclear powers is about as low as it has ever been (and that's including Putin.) If someone who does climate science wanted to start their own clock? That should be set way close to Midnight. But not this clock.

On preview: wotsac nails it in a lot few words that I did.
posted by eriko at 7:14 AM on January 26, 2016 [34 favorites]

no matter how i struggle and strive
i'll never get out of this world alive
posted by entropicamericana at 7:35 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

My w0mbat Alarmist Clock is way better. It started out set to midnight and it's already done the first 11 "bongggg" sounds.
posted by w0mbat at 10:52 AM on January 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Spoiler follows:

Upon review, we remain at three minutes to midnight.
posted by Shmuel510 at 11:01 AM on January 26, 2016

They already did it thirty-five minutes ago.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:25 AM on January 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

They just wanted everyone to know that there was a 12-hour / 24-hour clock misunderstanding and it's actually a little before noon, so you should think about getting some food if you're hungry.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 11:31 AM on January 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

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