Climate change brings world closer to ‘doomsday’, say scientists – ‘It is now three minutes to midnight’Posted by Jim at Friday, January 23, 2015
By Patrik Stollarz
22 January 2015
(AFP) – Climate change and the danger of nuclear war pose an ever-growing threat to civilization and are bringing the world closer to doomsday, a group of prominent scientists and Nobel laureates said Thursday.
"It is now three minutes to midnight," said Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, as the group moved its symbolic "Doomsday Clock" two minutes forward.
The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947. It has changed 18 times since then, ranging from two minutes to midnight in 1953 to 17 minutes before midnight in 1991.
The clock has been at five minutes to midnight since 2012 and the last time it was three minutes to midnight was in 1983, during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
"Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity," Benedict said.
"And world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe."
The scientists called on people to demand action from their leaders to curb fossil fuel pollution and to stop developing ever more modern nuclear weapons that are endangering the planet.
"We are not saying it is too late to take action, but the window for action is closing rapidly. The world needs to be awakened from its lethargy and start making changes," Benedict said.
Such actions should cap greenhouse gas emissions at levels sufficient to keep average global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, the group said.
"Efforts at reducing global emissions of heat-trapping gases have so far been entirely insufficient," said Richard Somerville, a member of the Science and Security Board, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and a distinguished professor emeritus and research professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego.
"Unless much greater emissions reductions occur very soon, the countries of the world will have emitted enough carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by the end of this century to profoundly transform the Earth's climate," he said, noting that 2014 was the hottest on record and that the tipping point of ice loss in west Antarctica has been reached, meaning the melt is now unstoppable.
The climate changes that human are driving "will harm millions of people and will threaten many key ecological systems on which civilization relies," he said. [more]