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Six Minutes to Midnight

January 13, 2010

Brit Trogen

This morning at 10am, for the twentieth time since its creation, the Doomsday Clock changed position.

This isn't another one of those crazy conspiracies maintained by tinfoil hat-wearing loonies, but a symbolic prediction made by the directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, meant to predict how far humankind is from "catastrophic destruction," or midnight.

The Doomsday Clock was originally set up in 1947 as an analogy to indicate our closeness to the threat of nuclear war, but has since been expanded to include relevant issues like climate change and other technologies and developments that could potentially produce irrevocable harm (read: crazy evil robots). And the last time it was moved was in 2007, when North Korea and Iran were playing around with nukes, and the clock slipped forwards two minutes from 11:53 to 11:55.

Which brings me to this morning. The clock has now moved backwards one minute, bringing us to 11:54. Now, granted, this isn't a significant improvement. But in the grand scheme of things it makes me ask: What exactly have we fixed?

According to the atomic scientists, the move is due to "worldwide cooperation to reduce nuclear arsenals and pledges to limit climate-changing gas emissions," which in laymen's terms comes down to talk... and more talk. But while talking about our problems is swell, I don't think anyone should be pretending that it's good enough to do any tangible good to our planet.

Don't kid yourselves, atomic scientists. Talk is cheap.

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