Five minutes to midnight

Posted by Ian
The end of the world officially got closer at 2.30pm on Wednesday.
That was the moment when scientists altered the planet’s Doomsday Clock to better reflect our proximity to armageddon. The Clock, conceived in 1947, is about as stark an embodiment of our world’s wellbeing as you can get. During its 60-year existence it has been shifted forwards and backwards as the likelihood of nuclear destruction has waxed and waned.
It hit two minutes to midnight in 1953 when the US and USSR openly tested thermonuclear warheads. It then sank back to 12 minutes to midnight by 1963 when both powers signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty limiting atmospheric nuclear testing. Fast forward to 1984, however, and the Clock was up at three minutes to the hour in the wake of President Reagan’s gung-ho attitude towards the Cold War. Come 1991 it was safely down at 17 minutes thanks to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Recently, though, we’ve been creeping back towards zero hour. The last update was in 2002 when the Clock was moved to seven minutes to midnight to represent the threat of nuclear terrorism and George W. Bush’s antipathy towards disarmament. And now it has changed again. In a co-ordinated announcement in London and New York, scientists reported that the minute hand has been brought forwards a full 120 seconds. We are now five minutes away from a nuclear holocaust.
To be honest, I was expecting it to be closer. I was anticipating four, even three minutes to midnight, such is the perilous condition of the world and the way a climate of fear is being stoked by aggressors of both the elected (the United States) and unelected (North Korea) kind.
But maybe it’s right to not be too alarmist – yet. Much of that tangible feeling of catastrophe is just that: a feeling. The likelihood of actual nuclear meltdown perhaps isn’t as great as, to use that brutally clinical phrase, ‘conventional’ war: conflict between real people using guns and tanks and missiles.
Moreover, the threat from environmental disaster currently seems just as potent as that from any manmade weapon. One manifestation of this, the battle to save certain species from extinction, we featured on the homepage on Wednesday. Another, the thorny issue of carbon offsetting – which we investigated last weekend – seems to bedevil even Tony Blair. If we, as a nation, can’t figure out how to solve the destructive capability of our own dustbin or our holiday travel plans, you do wonder what hope there is for inching towards worldwide nuclear disarmament.
As the Doomsday Clock ticks on, one thing above all else strikes me as true. Demonising those who you fear – calling them part of an "axis of evil", for instance – merely breeds more fear and accelerates the chances of destruction rather than peace. In the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, America’s greatest ever President, speaking in 1933 at a moment of comparable global anxiety:
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
Can you imagine Bush ever saying something so enduringly, poetically profound?
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26 Responses to Five minutes to midnight

  1. liz says:

    As a Seventh -day Adventist Christian who studies the prophecies of the Bible, it comes as no surprise to me and the rest of my fellow believers that the end of the world is nigh. This may sound cliche to unbelievers but it is a fact that Jesus is near to returning for his faithful people and to destroy this earth and SIN. The prophecies in Daniel and the Revelation as well as Matthew chapter 24 clearly defines the events that will take place just before the end of time when JESUS shall return again to judge and to reward each individual according to his/her works.

  2. andy_wade says:

    2 things make me believe that the end of the world is NOT nigh:-
    1) the illuminati would never let it happen, the new group of world leaders (who are infact lizards) show no indication of concern whatsoever
    2) Mark & Spensers are still selling delicious chocolate mousses at 49p. A clear indication that they expect the world to be the same placein the near future, otherwise they would hike the price up knowing that there is only a few days left to sell.

  3. Unknown says:

    Armageddon is the end of an old consciousness, not the end of the world!  We are in the process of evolving not ending.  The earth moves in 26,000 year cycles we are about to move up a rung of the ladder in order to keep up with advanced universes in  our galaxy.  Armageddon is interpreted as a supreme battle at the end of the world, we are all one consciousness so who would the battle be with and why?  We are the single reality in multiple form, life and God mean the same thing!
    The illuminati are here, please don\’t worry, there is not cause for concern.  All in divine order methinks.

  4. Ian says:

    I\’ve never been tempted to comment on the endless rubbish uploaded to the net before, but the mindless mutterings of the first and third posts have done it.
    I think you need to stick that make believe book somewhere the sun doesn\’t shine. See if your "Jesus" saves you then. If it wasn\’t for all the religous crap spread about this world, we wouldn\’t be in the mess we are.

  5. Unknown says:

    I agree, religion has caused all the problems in the world today because  religious groups do not understand ultimate reality or quantum physics.  As a physicist ( and I posted number 3)  I am not religious at all but as poster two so prefectly put it… illuminati.
    We are in the process of conscious evolution and many who are stuck with \’the bible\’ which is very 2000 years ago need to move on and listen to todays teachers, in order to do that though they first need to let go of all the fear currently attached to religion which is causing so many global problems.  Most religious groups are very stuck in the past and are simply afraid to absorb new and evolving information.
    The bible is a dusty old book long past being appropriate in todays world, most of it is inaccurate and altered to protect and control the masses (us)  there are advanced books by some of the finest minds in the world such as The new Earth by Eckhart Tolle which would do well to be read by most religious groups.
    armaggeddon is the end of an old and limited way of thinking, scaremongering by religious groups will only add to the collective energy of fear already far too excessive in this race.
    illuminati are not concerned and neither should you be.

  6. andy_wade says:

    Hello again (Poster No. 2 here)
    My whole post was infact a joke in response to poster No. 1.
    I realise that my first point (illuminati) may have misleaded you into thinking that I indeed believe the stuff about lizard type world leaders etc, but sorry to dissapoint I do not. Infact I am a person of science and believe in nothing but evolution, no higher beings etc etc. True facts speak for themselves. I\’m also against wars or violence of any kind. More reasons why religion destroys life.
    I would of thought Point No. 2 may have given an indication of the seroiusness of my post.

  7. Linda says:

    We, the human species, are our own worst enemy….the majority has little or no repsect for the world in which we live….Also, a majority of the people that I know on the other sideof the pond , here in the USA, think that Mr. Bush (he is and never was my president)  is a total moron!

  8. Barry says:

    wot a load off crap, the bible is just a book written by some dead guy years ago that people started to follow, but they have taken it to far. if there was a god thats suposed to protect anyone why does he let all this world hatred happen. all this end of the world stuff is because off world leaders that cant and wont do there jobs properly, ie, power hungry tossers.

  9. Unknown says:

    This comes as no surprise to me at all, who wants to live in this corrupted world anymore? Certainly, not me. This is just Bible prophecy being echoed. However, it may seem all doom and gloom but according to what the same prophecy, the whole earth will be renewed at the coming of Jesus who will renovate the earth.  Meanwhile, business as usual.  Play Free games and enjoy life.

  10. Harold says:

    Fear is the prime weapon . The end is at hand. \’This is it\’ . We are SO powerful, SO important that billions of years of life will be exstinguished  BY US or stopped BY US . Thats how important we are. There will never be an end, there is no end. We are so insignificant it is laughable. Do what YOU believe is the right thing for YOU to do in YOUR situation. Ignore the politicians. Have courage not FEAR. Think more of sidereal time instead of GMT.

  11. robert says:

    dear ian ,
    the doomsdayclock ………
    geiger counter ?
    measuring backround radiation ?
    incoming / outgoing …..
    temporal ?
    only now ……
    relative distance ?
    incoming peaks ?
    prscient terrain mapping ?
    rearveiw ,
    what comes around goes around ?
    tick tock wat clock …..
    tomorrows news yesterday …….
    radiations falling back into sol ?
    whats your frequncy kenneth ……

  12. John says:

    I don\’t think the \’traditional\’ nuclear holocaust is likely at the moment.  More immediate threats that come to mind are the likelihood of an antigen shift in the H5N1 virus -which means it can readily hop from person to person or some other natural cataclysm caused by our very definitely unnecessary presence on what was a beautiful planet.
    In the case of an antigen shift we have the real chance to test the theories of our leaders who only count the casualties in the hundred thousands. I find the figures they use alarmingly benign when you consider the mortality rate for this virus currently sits at around 60%. \’Oh yes\’ they say it will drop when it starts to infect humans.  On what evidence do you suppose they base that little gem of guesswork? I do know the answer and I still wonder… what if the infection rate was 70% [after all we have no natural immunity] and the mortality rate was 50%  could we cope with millions of deaths?
    Nuclear exchanges? [what a quaint name for death and destruction]  It will either be some nutcase that thinks God welcomes mass murderers -because they are doing it for him of course?- or it will be when China has played its last economic card to win a territory, and the answer is still no.

  13. Stuart says:

    Whilst I agree with much of what you have written, your closing statement about the rhetoric that \’we\’ use when talking about those we see as potential threats suffers from the delusion that not speaking of our problems will make them go away. Whilst FDR spoke of perceived fears in 1933, very REAL and very horrible things were happening in Germany. Neville Chamberlain was prepared to broker peace and agreement at \’any price\’ whilst all this time an evil despot was riding roughshod through Europe. Similarly, without Regan\’s tough stance in the 80\’s and 90\’s, Russia, still following the style of another despot Stalin, would NOT have been so willing to change their position. The Berlin wall would NOT have fallen. (As it is, Russia still represents the biggest threat to stability in Europe and Asia. Have you had your gas switched off yet UK?) The Doomsday Clock Scientists and your article have made the big mistake of jumping on the bandwagon of Bush-bashing. We may find some of his words less than diplomatic but he says it like it is. America isn\’t test firing warheads at Japan the way North Korea is. America won\’t gas millions of its own people of a certain ethnic set like Saddam did. In a new conflict, America is less likely to use nuclear weapons before Iran does. For all his blunt rhetoric, Bush can only ever be in power for 8 years – no matter how popular a US president that\’s what you get. How long will the UK suffer from Blair (and then Son of Blair)? Bush is right to take a stance against the threats to peace and stability around the world. Thank God someone does! Silence and kind words, as FDR, Chamberlain and ALL appeasers have found to the world\’s cost, merely gives time and resources to despots and their evil regimes. The clock only runs to midnight – we can no longer put off tackling the threats until tomorrow. Our children won\’t thank us.SJCresswell, Canada

  14. Ruth says:

    NOBODY on this earth knows when the end of the world is the only one person who knows and that is our maker JESUS. People can only guess,but thats all it is a guess. Rather when worring when the end is you need to start wandering were your gonna end up.I know were im going because ive had the privilege of getting to know my heavenly father who is awesome (just look at this wonderful world he has created) If you think its ugly its only because man has made it that way.  Why dont you get to know JESUS today? Trust me you wont be dissapointed. He is ready and waiting for you. KNOCK and the door will be opened to you SEEK andyou will find ASK and it shall be given up to you.

  15. John says:

    Stustock, you read me wrong.  I was a cold war warrior.  16 years I served in the navy from 74-90.  Between them Ronny and Margaret brought communism down in Russia.
    But I wasn\’t talking about that kind of conflict.  I lived in Hong Kong for 3 years and I was impressed by China, the Chinese and their incredible energy.  But I still saw the potential for the next world superpower.  America is already on its way out, they make the Borgias seem honest and above board.  The Chinese won\’t ever need to invade America they\’ll buy it. They\’d sell  their mothers to make a profit and sadly too many of their businessmen will sell their country and think it a good deal.
    Oh and Ruth, Jesus didn\’t make anything.  GOD did.
    The Chinese plan 10, 20 and 30 years ahead we plan about 10 minutes if we\’re lucky and it doesn\’t get in the way of making money.

  16. John says:

    Was it Thomas Jefferson who said"Those who turn their swords into ploughshares end up plowing for those who dont".A man of true wisdom.Walk softly and carry a big(thermonuclear)stick.

  17. John says:

    errr what\’s with the Marion Morrison act?
    When people start talking about \’Where gonna take people down\’  Its usually people that will be as far away from the shooting as they can get.  Don\’t you lot ever learn your lessons?
    And just which president is going to use his thermonuclear stick?  Even George junior muppet Bush has got more brains cells than to start unpacking the buckets of instant sunshine.
    I think we need you to get together with the mad mullahs and \’duke it out\’ Marion style [just in case anyone is wondering who Marion was, its John Wayne\’s proper name.

  18. Jessica says:

    i think its a little unfair blaming everythingon Bush, i doubt he realy knows what neuclear(spelling?) means hes not exactly smart. its the entire US government. whens bush being got rid of anyway, i have no clue about american politics. ultimatly the desicion(spl?) to launch neuclear weapons wont be down to 1 single person, would you stand by while some presed the self destruct button right in front of you.
        in my oppinion the whole world ending at the hands of humans seems a bit like a sci-fi film and highly unlikely.
        whats an iluminaty people keep mentioning it.
    as to those who say theres no god because theres free will i have this to say. if god was realy benevolant god would give the world free will, if people fuck it up its there fault. and to those who dont beleve in god because of science i have this to say. the argument of causation, according to popular belfe there was a big bang….ect. what caused the big bang, god is the cause the first cause but god its self uncaused.
    for all of you wondering where i got that from i go to a catholic school and have to take RE those are a couple of arguments we\’ve been given to support gods existance.
    people have a conscience and blowing up the world is a desision few if any could agree to do. ( very sorry about the spelling)

  19. Brian says:

    I find it utterly amazing that throughout the debate around "Armageddon" or "Climate change effects" nobody ever mentions the world population increase. Take more out than you are putting in that\’s the true definition of The Earths\’s Armageddon.
    Put yourself on a planet outside the galaxy that is looking to colonize earth – what would they see as the biggest threat by a factor 10??
    You. me and our descendents folks!
    My definition of a courageous world leader is not one that takes on terrorism short term but population growth long term. None of "them" have had the guts to do so so far – not really a vote winner!

  20. Lynn Ferno says:

    Okay, look i am really worried about this personally…….I\’m 17 years old and i can\’t sleep with worry of nuclear war, everytime i settle my mind over it, something comes in the news to spark it off again, im not scared of dying at all, i just dont want to die like this, so yes im scared of dying in nuclear warfare, can anyone ease my mind or do i write my will now?

  21. brian says:

    the game is ,then to get a long term mortgage,enjoy it for like £1.000.000 and the world comes to an end ,an we can,t pay it back ,,,,,,,,,cos we all be gone,,,,,unless the broker takes out life insurance ,,,,then he covered ,,,,an we,ll all be happy,,,, luvly jubly

  22. Ghosts of says:

    I would just like to say, that I believe (no offense to any of the religious people, whatsoever) that the world\’s end will be nigh, once the sun has finally used up it\’s last source of gas. (I know, very scientfic) However, I feel we shouldn\’t be worrying on when the world\’s end will be; all we need to worry about, is what we can do to help the world to restore itself. Like, for example, stop cutting down trees and recycle, cut on on using so much pollution, saving \’near-to-extinction\’ species. I\’m only 15 years old, coming up for 16 this August; and I am very sensitive about this type of topic. The truth is, nobody knows when the world is going to end. If we knew the world was going to end this year, it would have had clear been stated in the bible, wouldn\’t it?
    In my personal opinion, I think the world has many more years ahead of itself. It\’ll probably out live the people that are around today. Yes, today\’s people are not what we all hoped, yes, the pollution is now visibly to take place, but I believe that it will be aleast another 100 years until the world is finally going to go to pot.

  23. SHELLEY says:

    Just a few words to those young people who have registered their fears on this site.  Try not to worry about what might happen.  Concentrate on what matters today, and plan your futures.  I\’m 37 now, and from the ages of 9 through to my early twenties, I lived in terror of the world ending and of nuclear war.  I used to listen to and read statements from all the doomsayers and make the Bible fit my beliefs, and it made me ill.  Remember, people have been saying the world is ending back through centuries, especially at times like the Black Plague in Europe, the Crusades and through various wars. And we\’re still here.  They just keep moving the goalposts back.  My dad used to tell me he went through the same thing, and that everyone ultimately knows total nuclear war is global suicide.  Only a minority of idiots want that.  Although there are no guarantees they won\’t get their fingers on the trigger, it\’s unlikely as long as there are good people in there too…and, however cynical we are about politicians and world leaders, they do exist.  In summary, be a good citizen, care for your planet and encourage others to do the same. Pray to your God, whoever he/she/it might be.  Don\’t let the world become a product of its fears, as others have said.  My dad\’s been right until now, although I didn\’t believe him in my younger years.  And don\’t forget to have fun, too.

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