Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The time is no longer ten minutes to twelve.

"To the last ones remaining, please rewind the clock." 

The Doomsday Clock 

The time is now three minutes to twelve.

The two main reasons why the Doomsday Clock is ticking unhappily towards midnight are (i) the threat of a nuclear war between the super powers and (ii) the threat to the planet posed by global warming or climate change (use whichever title you prefer).

The reasons for these reasons include the simple reason that those in positions of political power are all too often failing in their duty to the rest of us. We need not look very far for evidence of this. Witness for example the political fiasco that is known today as GREXIT.  Or witness the political blundering that has led to a world with more than 60 million refugees and asylum seekers. Or witness the political chicanery that has led to the dangerous war games on the borders of Europe and Russia.

The other day the Russians used a Soviet era rocket to launch three astronauts or cosmonauts (again use whichever title you prefer) safely on their way to the International Space Station. This stone age rocket was used because in a test launch a new high-tech US rocket, which was of the type to be used for transporting men and materials in future, went out of control and the order was given to shoot it down.

One time, as I now recall, there was some research published which proved that in the event of a nuclear conflagration a significant percentage of the inter-continental rockets carrying multiple nuclear warheads would not only fail to reach their targets but like the example above they would go out of control, sometimes due to magnetic interference generated by other rockets being launched or exploding nearby and land on the country which had launched them killing their own population. This is known as collateral damage.

On a regular basis one hears of rockets failing to reach orbit and falling back to earth, or exploding on the launch pad, often with cutting-edge technology payloads which have cost hundreds of millions in money and astronomical numbers of man hours being destroyed in a flash. In the theatre of nuclear holocaust there will be no time for a second chance.

So long as our politicians continue to act like self glorifying film stars the doomsday clock will continue to tick the 180 remaining seconds to oblivion.


  1. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day Gwil.

  2. That's wisdom in a nutshell!

  3. I checked with Wikipedia and back in 1953 the clock actually reached two minutes to midnight (I would’ve sworn at one time or another it had got to one minute to but it seems not) but it’s been at three minutes to a few times. The best has been seventeen minutes to which, if you think about it, still isn’t that great. What can you do with seventeen minutes? You do have to wonder, don’t you? How can the blindingly obvious stare so many well-educated people in the face and yet they still won’t listen? It’s when you put two figures together, like how much the world’s nations spend on armaments and what it would take to eradicate some disease or to make sure no one goes to bed hungry, that you see the folly in it all. I think the problem boils down to longevity, Man’s lack of it. We all think we—as in humanity—has more time and our kids’ll sort it out when it’s their turn. Can you believe we’ve only started recycling our household waste in the last few years and yet when I put the bins out what do I see? Cardboard boxes and plastic bottle and tins in with the non-recyclable rubbish. How hard is it to rinse out a soup can and toss it in the bins provided? For Christ’s sake you don’t even have to carry it down to the bins out the back. Men come to our front door and take it away.

  4. Thanks Jim. I agree with all you say. And now I see that I said 120 seconds remaining when it is 180 (subconsciously thinking of the time it was 23:58 I suppose). So I'll change that. Poet-in-Residence readers get a doomsday bonus: a whole extra minute!


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