Monday August 08, 2022

Doomsday and hope

January 24, 2022

On this 75th anniversary of their Nuclear Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists unveiled their 2022 setting, keeping the time steady for the past 2 years at 100 seconds until midnight. The graphic representation of apocalyptic global catastrophe is the closest point since the introduction of the clock.

The minute hand on the clock has moved this close to midnight this past two years due to the continued twin existential threats of climate catastrophe and nuclear war coupled with other disruptive technologies such as cyber terrorism and attack noting that each of these are man-made threats and can also be solved by mankind, if only there exists the will.

The Bulletin cited cautious hope in the absence of concrete action over this past year. This included the extension of the New START Treaty, the initiation with Russia of a diplomatic dialogue on strategic security, the reiteration of the Reagan/Gorbachev principle of, ‘A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,’ by Presidents Biden and Putin, and the holdout for some positive direction on the Nuclear Posture Review due out this next month. This expectation of the Nuclear Posture Review is in spite of the apparent capture of the process by nuclear hawks, the Pentagon and pressure from congressional nuclear advocates who have been bought and paid for by the nuclear weapons manufacturers.

The seeming pass given to the Clock setting was also presented with articulation of the significant concerns. These include Russian, US tensions over the Ukraine crisis with a looming threat of war, the Taiwan/China tensions, ongoing global modernization of and expansion of nuclear arsenals, tensions between India and Pakistan and North Korea’s nuclear program combined with the continued crisis multiplier of climate change with the absence of concrete coordinated international actions to combat it. All this is happening simultaneously as we deal with the continued global pandemic which has no end in sight.

Are we really as secure this year as last? Admittedly, the intent of the annual Clock review is not meant to paralyze and overwhelm us but rather to motivate us as a call to action. As such, maybe that is the rationale for attempting to maintain hope with this year’s steady reading. To that end there truly is actual international hope that comes from the people around the world who are acting and demanding their governments undertake bold actions to abolish nuclear weapons and end the continued destruction of our planet and its dependence on fossil fuels. They recognize that we are one interdependent human family on all issues of survival and sustainability. They have moved beyond the 20th century thinking of ‘other’ and to the recognition of oneness.

Excerpted: ‘Doomsday and Hope’