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Clean Power doomsday clock now at 5 minutes to midnight

Published on January 10th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Doomsday Clock Moved to 5 Minutes to Midnight, Focus on Global Warming & Energy

January 10th, 2012 by  


doomsday clock now at 5 minutes to midnight

The Doomsday Clock, a symbolic clock focused on how close we are to tremendous global catastrophe… or doomsday, was moved from 6 minutes to midnight to 5 minutes to midnight today.

Reasons for Moving the Clock Forward

A handful of reasons were provided for moving the Doomsday Clock’s hands for just the 20th time since it was unveiled in 1947, including increasing worry regarding the original topic of the clock’s concern — nuclear proliferation. One of the growing concerns over the years, however, has been global warming, and our inaction on this topic, combined with some politicians complete rejection of science on this matter, was a key factor in moving the clock forward today.

“The scientists also noted how Republicans seeking the GOP nomination were trying to outdo each other in denying climate science,” The Guardian reports.

“It is five minutes to midnight,” the scientists said. “Two years ago it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed.”

“A cross-cutting issue through the entire discussion is the worrisome trend to reject or diminish the significance of what science says is the characteristic of a problem,” said Robert Socolow of Princeton’s Environmental Institute. “There is a general judgement among us that we need the political leadership to affirm the primacy of science.”

Tell us about it!

Additionally, the nuclear disasters in Japan last year contributed greatly to the clock’s most recent tick.

“They warned that the Fukushima meltdown once more exposed the dangers of nuclear power – not just because of technology but because of management failures.”

Suffice it to say, we here at CleanTechnica agree with the scientists, and it is largely why we do what we do.

In addition to the greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuel energy and the concerns of nuclear energy, the unsustainable nature of reliance on oil, coal, and other limited resources was also cited. If only we could harness power from the sun, wind, and water….

History of the Doomsday Clock

For those interested in a little more history, the clock was first put into use in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago. They have maintained the clock ever since. The clock has ticked forward or backward 20 times in those 65 years. The furthest it’s ever been from midnight was 17 minutes (after the break-up of the Soviet Union 20 years ago) and the closest it’s ever been is 2 minutes from midnight (in 1953, after the US’ and Soviet Union’s testing of their first thermonuclear devices). In 2010, the clock was moved backwards to 6 minutes to midnight out of optimism over global leader’s positions on key issues, but lack of action has led to greater concern.

More history on the Doomsday Clock, including all changes, can be found on Wikipedia, of course.

Clock at 5 Minutes to Midnight via shutterstock

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • liked, tweeted, +’d, and submitted to SU 😀

  • Thanks.

  • ted3611

    We have been warming on this earth over the last 11,000 years, Why is it an issue today? I’m sure the people that used the bridge created in the last ice age to enter north america were dismayed when the glaciers retreated and the bridge melted. They probably complained about global warming at that time.
    a few hundred years from now people will complain it is either too warm or too cold.
    Much of our climate is controlled by La nina and El nina events which are cooling and warming of the pacific. The cause is still uncertain as we do not fully understand deep curents in the pacific

  • Edward Kerr


    Informative post. It’s a subject that most people bury their heads in the sand about or simply refuse to even consider. It leads into an article that I am going to post on my site soon about how the idea of a “doomsday” caused by human folly can lead to serious depression in concerned individuals. Fear and depression can be great spiritual cripplers so it’s important that we try to remain centered in our daily lives. When that is out of balance trying to help spark a positive change in direction can be a daunting task (or even more daunting than it already is).

    I guess that all that we can do is to “keep on truckin” and hope that ware voices are heard from the wilderness of occasional despair. Thanks for all that you do.


    • Thanks. Yeah, we try to focus more on the positive solutions here, and empower people. But this is obviously big news, and we all need a kick in the pants from time to time!

      Share your piece here when it’s done. 😀

      • Edward Kerr

        I posted it today Zach. It’s less than 500 words. I’d love share it but don’t know how (technically) to accomplish that.

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