Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
[flagged] Doomsday Clock at the shortest distance to midnight ever (wikipedia.org)
26 points by scooter_de on March 4, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 30 comments

It's time to heed the calls to finally retire the theater of the clock. Its symbolic meaning has been stretched too far:

1. https://www.wsj.com/articles/time-to-stop-the-doomsday-clock...

2. https://thefederalist.com/2016/01/27/retire-the-doomsday-clo...

3. https://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2018/01/26/why_its...

When the clock is almost always midnight, surely we are either on the cusp, or the time is set incorrectly. Although there are many things wrong I'd argue that we are nowhere near as bad off as during the peak of the cold war, for example.

I'd argue that with climate change, we're worse off than during the cold war. At least during the cold war, no one was arguing that nuclear annihilation wasn't a problem.

Even the worst predictions of runaway warming are going to take decades, if not centuries, to manifest, and at worst we're probably talking about mass migrations as arable regions shift. Earth turning into Venus or Mars is unlikely and even if that is the case such a transformation would realistically take so long that it's frankly hysteria to call it doomsday.

The worst possible outcome as far as humans are concerned is an economical disaster which would lead to people with out money, food, or water. People die with out those, so it's likely they would be willing to fight to death for them. So the worst outcome in the distant future is probably a collapse of society as we know it. Migrants already cause a lot of political instability. Lack of resources already cause wars and deaths. This will be exacerbated by climate change, and to some degree already is now. For example, a shortage of food causes unrest and that unrest grows to the point it can be used to justify a conflict.

We have to have a lot of inaction to get to that point from here, but it's possible.

The point is that none of this is going to happen overnight and though millions may suffer or die, there will be time for mitigation. Civilization won't end - which is the criteria for the doomsday clock. The inclusion of climate change may be well intentioned but it is inappropriate.

I think you're right that people often over estimate the suddeness of climate change, when in actual fact it is a slow process over a long period of time, so change will come slowly not like a big disaster that people might have in their heads.

But the economy and society can change suddenly. People denying anything is wrong keeps it going. Everything is fine until it isn't, then change can come suddenly. USSR I think is a good example of this.

The economy will run until the constraints make it fail. This already happens now sometimes. We just have the means and the methods to fix it, or prevent it. Global warming will cause those constraints and our abilities to change and the economy is not just magically going to keep going, unless climate change is deterred.

Lack of food, lack of money, lack of stable government, etc. I think these are all conditions for civilisation ending. I don't think it will go from the stability we have now to no stability over a very long period. It will be like a pendulum and it will oscilate until one thing becomes too many and it will be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

I want to make it clear I'm saying this is only a possibility, and only if no change occurs. I don't think is the most likely outcome, merely that it's possible.

There were hawks arguing you could go a lot farther without triggering nuclear war. Early in the war there was a belief that soviet bombers could be shot down before hitting mainland US targets.

There were actual plans for people surviving in bunkers after atomic bombing. With the hydrogen bomb, the calculations changed from survivability for a few, to no meaningful survivability.

Side note, I think they used the wrong gauge for the metaphor. An hourglass gives a better sense of time “running out” a fuel gauge also does a better job than cyclical pointers (that have no natural end)

While originally the Clock represented the threat of the power struggle between superpowers, it's important to note that factors such as climate change and bioterrorism are now factored into setting the Clock. The Clock's current position was explained as follows:

'On 23 January 2020, the Clock was moved further, to 100 seconds (1 minute 40 seconds) before midnight, meaning that the Clock's status today is the closest to midnight since the Clock's start in 1947. The Bulletin' executive chairman, Jerry Brown, said "the dangerous rivalry and hostility among the superpowers increases the likelihood of nuclear blunder... Climate change just compounds the crisis".'

I think many can appreciate that the lack of appreciable action on climate change is at least as worrisome as the the threat of a nuclear exchange and it is looking increasingly likely we will miss our 1.5-2 degree targets.

Since 1991, so almost three decades, it has only been moved back once, and then only by 1 second.

The Doomsday Clock is a PR piece for a group of politicized scientists.

The threat of a nuclear catastrophe is higher now than it was during the Cuban missile crisis? That doesn't ring true.

This shouldn't be downvoted. There is absolutely no way we're in greater danger at this very moment then we were during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

It's not just nuclear catastrophe that's being measured.

>"Midnight" has a deeper meaning to it besides the constant threat of war. There are various things taken into consideration when the scientists from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decide what Midnight and "global catastrophe" really mean in a particular year. They might include "politics, energy, weapons, diplomacy, and climate science"

Even the worst projections of climate change are not "doomsday" events. Global nuclear Holocaust is doomsday. Extreme weather and displaced people is not doomsday. Which goes to exactly my point about the clock being used by politicized scientists.

Wikipedia says that the group setting the clock didn't meet during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It seems they publish the clock annually.

It seems entirely reasonable that we're in more danger now than at sampled points before/after the Crisis - after all, it proved that the US and the USSR could manage to not blow each other up. There are more nuclear-capable powers today headed by less sensible men.

Also: "Because, you see, the clock is not a gauge to register the ups and downs of the international power struggle; it is intended to reflect basic changes in the level of continuous danger in which mankind lives in the nuclear age, and will continue living, until society adjusts its basic attitudes and institutions to the challenges of science."

The clock was at 7 minutes during the crisis, and they didn't feel it necessary to move it. Yet now it is at 1 minute 40 seconds?


That is exactly why I think the Doomsday clock is run by a group of politicized scientists(and politicians, including ex-CA gov Brown).

How seriously should this be taken? It doesn't feel as if we're much closer than we have been?

About as serious as the stories Scientology sells.

So... all your income serious?

Virus pandemics affecting global trade, climate change is starting to build steam and become irreversible, right-wing ethnocentric parties are taking over in much of the developed world.

How can you not take it seriously?

I think you can take serious problems seriously without “Ok Doomer”.

If you are told you are seconds from annihilation all the time, someone is playing with your emotions.

Can we reference self fulfilling prophecy here? Subject-Expectancy Effect? I am all for taking stock of our world and trying to fix problems. But IMHO, seeing things like this is apt to make people say "FK IT, BURN IT DOWN!!!"

It's interesting that the precision of the clock increases as we approach midnight.

Zeno's Doomsday Clock.

The good news is that we will be about 23 hours away from midnight in a few days.

A clock probably isn't a very accurate device for measuring how close we are to Doomsday.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact