On 10th January 2012, the Doomsday Clock was moved to five minutes before midnight. What this means, in a very real sense, is that we are all going to be fine.
In case you didn’t know, the Doomsday Clock is a representation of how close humanity is to global disaster, through nuclear war or drastic climate change. It has been maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a team of superheroes a group of scientists based at the University of Chicago, since 1947. The thing is, the clock only seems to move when things are pretty much okay. The fall of the Soviet Union? Clock was moved back. Signing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty? Clock was moved back. When things are actually looking bad, the Doomsday Clock is nowhere to be seen. Cuban Missile Crisis? No change. 9/11? No change. Maybe that’s because all the scientists are busy taking care of actual work, instead of keeping themselves busy by playing with a metaphorical clock.
The clock was changed this time because of “inadequate progress” on the issues of nuclear weapons and climate change. How is that fair? Telling everyone we’re closer to death because we’re not doing it fast enough. Progress is progress. The clock should stay still. Or move back, even. I think the problem might be that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists thinks they’re more important than they actually are. The Doomsday Clock is an interesting idea, but it doesn’t really mean anything. So what if we’re one minute closer to midnight? Nothing’s changed. It’s a quirky piece of fluff news with no real bearing on the state of the world. Governments couldn’t give a damn about what time the clock says. They’re much too busy, what with running countries and actually averting nuclear wars, instead of pointing to a pretend clock and going “Ooh, it’s a bit close isn’t it? Give Iran a ring, ask them how they are”.
So yeah, we’re all good. The clock’s going to move backwards and forwards and people are going to get worried, particularly this year because of the whole 2012 thing. But think about this way. It’s never going to reach midnight. How do I know? Because we’ll all be dead before those guys get a chance to change it! Sleep tight!