Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear Power is Not Carbon-Free

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On 24 January, UK High Court will decide if Julian Assange can appeal against extradition

The UK High Court will deliver its decision on Monday 24 January on whether to permit Julian Assange to appeal the US extradition decision to the UK’s Supreme Court #FreeAssangeNOW

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Options for Australia’s nuclear submarines – all of them impractical

Nuclear-powered submarines for Australia: what are the options? The Strategist , 20 Jan 2022, Pete Sandeman   The political and strategic ramifications of the AUKUS pact involving the US, UK and Australia continue to reverberate, but the details of how Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) have often been overlooked. There are daunting technical, industrial and financial challenges on the long road to joining that club.

Even the acquisition of conventional submarines isn’t easy and projects completed on time and budget are rare. Nuclear propulsion adds another layer of complexity and cost, and the engineering challenge has been described as more demanding than building the space shuttle. There are good reasons why SSN ownership is limited to a small group of elite nations—the US, Russia, China, the UK, France and India. (With considerable French assistance, Brazil is on track to have its first nuclear boat in the late 2020s.)

………. Some commentators suggest that Australia’s first boats at least could be bought off UK or US production lines. Alternatively, old or ‘surplus’ submarines could be leased until new vessels are available. These assumptions are at odds with the US Navy’s and Royal Navy’s struggles with bringing new boats into service and maintaining ageing vessels.

…….Defence Minister Peter Dutton has said the RAN is considering leasing boats from the USN or RN but that’s far from a certainty. The RN is already severely short of active boats—nominally down to six SSNs, and able to field two or three on a good day. The USN is trying to maintain its existing force, struggling to build enough new Virginia-class SSNs while its Los Angeles-class boats are phased out. However supportive of Australia the UK may be, it has no suitable boats available to lease. The US has a far bigger fleet with 28 Los Angeles boats still active, but its force is already overcommitted and Washington is unlikely to offer anything, except perhaps a recently retired boat as a static training vessel.

Neither the US nor UK keeps submarines ‘in reserve’. The UK has already expensively extended the 1980s-vintage Trafalgar-class boats well past their 30th birthdays. None of the growing collection of decommissioned hulks could be returned to service with all the funds and will in the world. Their nuclear fuel is spent, and they would need colossally expensive refits and refuelling. More critically, submarines have finite hull lives. Every dive fatigues the pressure hull and pipework to a point where safe diving becomes severely restricted or the boat becomes unseaworthy. Older boats become increasingly hard to maintain and struggle to retain their all-important minimal acoustic signature.

The US has a more effective submarine dismantling program than the UK and its LA-class boats are gradually being scrapped. The inactive boats that remain intact are equally tired and some were withdrawn from service prematurely to avoid the cost of mid-life refuelling. There’s a slim chance that one or two of these boats could see further service with the RAN but only at enormous expense, and refitting them would put more strain on overburdened US industrial capacity.

………. Some suggest the Astute’s the best solution, optimistically proposing that the first couple be built in the UK before technology transfer enables the remaining six to be made in Australia. ……   Unfortunately, there are almost insurmountable obstacles to the class ever numbering more than seven.

In the UK, completion of the remaining Astute-class boats is finely balanced with the construction of the Dreadnought-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and there’s not space in the shipyard or skilled people available to add additional boats….

People didn’t prepare for nuclear submarine exports and AUKUS was a bolt from the blue.

Assuming money was no object, new engineers could be recruited and the Barrow facilities could be enlarged, the project would still be in trouble because the Astute’s PWR-2 reactor no longer meets modern safety benchmarks and production has almost ceased……

Even if additional PWR-2 reactors could be acquired and the Astute boats could be constructed in Australia, they’d be semi-obsolete when they began to arrive in service by the late 2030s.

…………..  Although the USN benefits from an established design and an industrial base that’s vastly more efficient than that of the RN, the yards and supply chain will need to expand significantly to fulfil the ambitious plans to grow the USN fleet. A recent report to Congress noted that ‘observers have expressed concern about the industrial base’s capacity for executing such a workload without encountering bottlenecks or other production problems in one or both of these programs’.

The USN also has issues maintaining its existing submarines. …………………..

When the AUKUS announcement was made, the Australian government promised to acquire at least eight nuclear submarines to be built by ASC in South Australia. There’s limited submarine building experience left at ASC since the Collins boats were completed in the early 2000s. The deal with the French to build Attack-class boats included technology transfer to regenerate the skills base. Whatever SSN design is selected, greater assistance will be needed from the UK or US. With limited nuclear infrastructure, Australia is unlikely to be able to enrich uranium to fuel the reactors. It’s likely that the reactor compartments will have to be imported pre-fabricated from the US or UK. The entire submarine enterprise will require Australia to establish a new safety and regulatory framework.

……….   Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said of the AUKUS deal: ‘There is no design, no costing, no contract. The only certainty is that we won’t have new submarines for 20 years, and their cost will be a lot more than the French subs.’ This is broadly correct. The eventual acquisition of SSNs is possible, but there are many potential showstoppers. The single biggest factor will probably be just how much the US government is willing to prioritise industrial assistance to the RAN at the expense of growing and supporting its own submarine fleet. The US has only ever exported nuclear technologies to Britain and must amend its laws to do the same for Australia.

A couple of elderly SSNs might be available for lease in the 2030s, but realistically it will be the 2040s before the RAN has sufficient SSNs to exert a strategic effect. The geopolitical situation could be vastly different then, and growing Chinese power and influence won’t wait for others to attain parity. The Australian public will also have to buy in to a project needing political commitment for decades and the RAN will have to lean heavily on allies and provide an enormous budget to cover the true financial costs of nuclear ownership.

Pete Sandeman is the main writer and editor of the UK site Navy Lookout, which he founded in 2007. He is a regular contributor to Warships International Fleet Review magazine and a member of the UK’s Independent Defence Media Association. This is an edited version of a piece he wrote for Navy Lookout.

January 22, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Environmental protection prevails over uranium in Western Australia, with expiration of a third mining approval

Extinction threat over for Yeelirrie as uranium mine approval expires,  The controversial Yeelirrie uranium mine in Western Australia is no longer able to proceed after the proponent missed a deadline to commence works at the site in WA’s Goldfields.

The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) welcomed the news, saying community resistance and environmental protection had prevailed.

Global uranium mining giant Cameco, headquartered in Canada, had five years to demonstrate ‘substantial commencement’ on the Yeelirrie uranium mine before environmental approvals expired on 20 January 2022.

Yeelirrie is the third of four WA uranium projects to have had its approval lapse after Cameco’s Kintyre uranium mine expired in March 2020 and Toro Energy’s Wiluna project expired earlier this month.

The federal environment minister infamously gave the green light to the Yeelirrie project knowing it was likely to send up to 11 species of unique subterranean fauna to extinction and would harm the Malleefowl, Princess parrot and Greater bilby.

Plans to mine uranium at Yeelirrie have been widely opposed by the Indigenous community around the site, which is on Tjiwarl Native Title determined country.

The Cameco proposal threatened an area which forms part of the Seven Sisters Dreaming songline and is referred to as ‘a place of death’. The word Yeelirrie translated to the word Yullala – which means to weep or mourn.

Vicki Abdullah, a Tjiwarl woman who has long campaigned against uranium mining on Tjiwarl country, said “Yeelirrie is an important cultural site, our families and old people have fought against mining at Yeelirrie for 50 years. There is a strong feeling of responsibility to keep the uranium there at Yeelirrie and we’re happy that as of today Cameco cannot mine that place.

“We’ve spoken to the Government many times and we hope they will do the right thing and withdraw the approval all together. Yeelirrie should never be mined and this government can make sure it is safe forever.”

Dave Sweeney from ACF said “There have been no new uranium mines started in Australia for a decade and with only two still operating it is increasingly clear there is no economic case for uranium mining in Western Australia.

“The sector has never made sense, now it doesn’t even make dollars.”

Mia Pepper from CCWA said “After 50 years of tireless campaigning to protect Yeelirrie we are now looking forward to the introduction of lasting protections against uranium mining in WA.”

January 22, 2022 Posted by | environment, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Antarctica: Once the World’s Largest Iceberg, A68a Is Now a Shattered Mess

 The monster iceberg A68 was dumping more than 1.5 billion tonnes of fresh water into the ocean every single day at the height of its melting. To put that in context, it’s about 150 times the amount of water used daily by all UK citizens.

A68 was, for a short period, the world’s biggest iceberg. It covered an area of nearly 6,000 sq km (2,300 sq miles) when it broke free from Antarctica in 2017. But by early 2021, it had vanished. One trilliontonnes of ice, gone.

 BBC 20th Jan 2022

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Labor has climate policy edge over Coalition, solid support for Greens

Labor has climate policy edge over Coalition, solid support for Greens

Asked to choose between a series of climate policies, a quarter chose the Greens’ plan. When narrowed to just the major parties, Labor had the edge in the survey

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

There’s nothing radical about climate action in 2022

There’s nothing radical about climate action in 2022, David Pocock, 21 Jan 22,

In 2014, hundreds of Australians, including myself, travelled to Leard State Forest, a critically endangered ecosystem and sacred place for Gomeroi/Gamilaraay people situated in northern NSW in one of Australia’s best farming regions. We were there to support a diverse coalition of farmers, First Nations leaders, environmental activists and local businesses all opposing a coal mine being developed in the middle of the forest.

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Just a reminder. Russia did not invade Crimea.

Bruce Gagnon, 21 Jan 22, Russia did not invade Crimea. They had a long-term lease with Ukraine that allowed over 20,000 military personnel at the Russian navy and air bases there.
The Russian-ethnic people of Crimea self-organized a referendum and voted 96% to seek to rejoin Russia. They saw the 2014 Nazi-led take over in Kiev during the US orchestrated coup and wanted nothing to do with the ‘new Ukraine’ regime.
See this excellent film produced by Oliver Stone

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Washington pumping up war fever 

Washington pumping up war fever  It’s nonstop in the western media. The message – war with Russia is coming. 

An American friend of mine, now living in Russia, has two sons in the US Army. One of them said to him today, “your two sons are going to be fighting your beloved Russia.” So the troops are obviously being told to prepare for war. One of those sons, an Army Special Forces soldier has been sent to western Ukraine several times to train the Nazi death squads that have been brought into the Ukrainian  Army since the US orchestrated coup d’état in 2014.

Russia has repeatedly stated that they have no intention of invading Ukraine – unless Ukraine first strikes Crimea or the Donbass (eastern Ukraine that borders Russia where two Russian-ethnic republics are located that have continually been targets of the right-wing Kiev government since 2014).

Russia constantly says they have no desire to take over the failed Ukrainian state – in fact Moscow says that the US-NATO have driven that country into the ground since the 2014 coup and they should help it recover. But the Washington agenda is chaos – just like Iraq, Syria, Libya and other places US-NATO have destroyed with their ‘freedom war machine’.

Let’s take a moment and look at possible reasons for the US-NATO daily agitation for war.

  • The western corporate powers see their reign as ‘global rulers’ rapidly vanishing and know this is the last chance to bring down Russia and China before the ‘multi-polar’ world comes into fruition in the next few years. 
  • The west is led by evil, psychopaths who thirst for war. The neo-cons come to mind.
  • It’s all a big public relations scheme to create a rare ‘win’ for the west. If Russia does not invade Ukraine then the US-NATO can claim it was all because they stood up to the ‘Russian bear’, proving that their out-of-date alliance still has a role in the world today. 
  • Western oligarchs can’t stand to let Russia have all those natural resources in the Arctic that are becoming possible to extract due to melting ice. So Russia must be broken up into smaller nations giving Mr. Big the chance to make the grab. See the RAND Corporation study that lays out the plan to balkanize Russia here. Thus there is no stopping this rush to war.
  • US-NATO are bluffing. It’s all a great distraction to help take the heat off Big Pharma’s global vaccine campaign and growing international economic problems.
  • You pick – give us your take in the comments.

  • Now let’s review some of the reasons why war might be avoided.

  • If the US-NATO really went to full blown war with Russia then it would likely go nuclear. China would probably be pulled in. If this happens forget covid – kiss your family good-bye. Is the US-NATO stupid enough to try this? Yes they are but there are some sensible leaders in Europe who know this would not be such a great idea. Let’s hope they have the stuff it takes to help shut down this insanity.
  • The US-NATO constant aggression is a big money maker for the military industrial complex so this current war talk is a cash cow for them. But they are not stupid and know that nuclear war does not help their profit line.
  • Think back to 2003 and George W. Bush’s ill-fated ‘shock and awe’ attack on Iraq that turned that nation into a chaotic failed state. Prior to the US-UK attack there were massive protests around the world for peace.

This time, as Washington-Brussels do their daily war-prep media barrage, there are few global protests. In fact there are some in the ‘US peace movement’ who buy the hype and believe Russia wants to remake the Soviet Union by invading Europe. Anyone who is actually paying real attention at this moment knows that story line is bullshit. But sadly some who should be protesting US-NATO provocations and aggression are not doing so. This weakens our ability to stop WW III.

I hope and pray that more people will speak out – and soon. Our lives depend on your courage and your action.

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘Everything about the Gulf of St. Lawrence was warmer in 2021’: federal scientist

‘Everything about the Gulf of St. Lawrence was warmer in 2021’: federal scientist
Warming ocean temperatures — especially in deep water — set more records in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2021, according to climate data released Tuesday by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

January 22, 2022 Posted by | climate change - global warming, South Australia | Leave a comment

Giant canyon discovered underneath Antarctic glacier, adding to history of rising sea levels

Giant canyon discovered underneath Antarctic glacier, adding to history of rising sea levelsAustralian Antarctic expeditioners have discovered an enormous, two-kilometre-deep canyon underneath a glacier that may make it more vulnerable to warming oceans.

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

U.N. Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons – in force one year , by January 22

Guest columnist Susan Lantz: A world without nuclear weapons,, By SUSAN LANTZ 1/21/2022 

Jan. 22 is the one-year anniversary of the U.N. Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons entering into force as international law. Today, 59 countries have ratified the Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, with several more countries on the verge of doing the same. The importance of this cannot be overstated. With more and more countries outlawing everything to do with nuclear weapons, it becomes increasingly harder for the nine countries possessing these weapons to defend their continued existence.

While it’s long been illegal, under all military laws, to use nuclear weapons, the Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons now also outlaws development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transferring, and threatening to use nuclear weapons. These stipulations put teeth into this treaty as the ratifying countries will no longer allow any nuclear weapons to be stored within their boundaries, cross their lands or allow any nuclear parts to be manufactured within their confines. The nine nuclear-armed nations are already feeling the pressure of international will.

For instance, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy are all likely to sign onto the Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons eventually, with strong support already in their populations and parliaments. The United States currently has nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany and Italy. After these countries ratify the treaty, the United States will be required to remove its weapons.

Nuclear Weapons along with Climate Change pose the two greatest existential threats to our civilization, our planet, and life as we know it. Within seconds, a nuclear holocaust could become reality by design or by accident.  Many close calls have been recorded in our history of nuclear weapons over the years. There is absolutely no safe way to have them exist, as one misstep and life as we know it is doomed on our planet. Humans, plants, trees, animals could cease to exist in a radiation-filled landscape and atmosphere. Nuclear weapons are way too powerful for mere mortals to control.

So friends, celebrate this very significant anniversary of the Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. It brings us closer to a world without nuclear weapons and therefore a safer, saner place to inhabit. Join us this Saturday, Jan. 22 in Northampton in front of the courthouse on Main Street or in Greenfield on the Common, from 11 a.m. to noon. Bring your signs, banners, whistles, pots, pans. Bring your support, and celebrate, knowing that the peoples’ will is beginning to be heard.

Susan Lantz lives in Easthampton.

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors a poor solution for UK’s and the world’s climate action.

it is difficult to see how a technology that will only be operational after the UK power system is supposed to be carbon-free will contribute to climate action in the next ten years or so. And the situation is similar globally.

Other questions around traditional nuclear power stations, such as the thorny issue of waste, would also still apply to SMRs…….

Is nuclear power the best solution to climate change? The UK, like China, the US and Canada, is attracted to nuclear power. But high costs and slow delivery means many energy experts remain unconvinced. New Statesman, By Philippa Nuttall 21 Jan 22,  debate in the House of Commons on 19 January, led by a group of MPs known as the “atomic kittens”, suggested nuclear energy can be a panacea for all ills – including a solution for the climate crisis and the gas crunch. The facts suggest otherwise.

Isn’t nuclear energy a no-no after Chernobyl and Fukushima?

Disasters clearly reduce appetite among the public and policymakers for nuclear power………………

Today, new nuclear construction projects are few and far between, even in countries such as France and the US whose energy systems are heavily reliant on the technology, and the number of operational reactors is in decline globally.

Are any countries investing heavily in nuclear?

In addition to safety concerns, rising costs are a central reason why the number of new plants under construction remains limited. Since 2011, nuclear power construction costs globally have doubled or even tripled. China is, however, notable in its nuclear ambitions. The country is planning at least 150 new reactors in the next 15 years, more than the rest of the world has built in the past 35, though cost could ultimately change this direction of travel.

The price of nuclear generation has moved in the opposite direction to solar and wind

Mean levelised cost of energy in US$/MWh, 2009–20………..

Others countries such as the UK, the US and Canada also see a limited role for new nuclear as part of their response to climate change. The UK government in its 2021 net zero strategy talked about “cutting edge new nuclear power stations”, and plans to launch a £120m Future Nuclear Enabling Fund.

There are some big nuclear power stations on the cards – think Hinkley Point C or Sizewell C in the UK. But the major excitement among many nuclear enthusiasts, including plenty of UK MPs is around so-called small modular reactors (SMRs). If you believe the hype, they are the answer to all climate and energy ills………………

Rolls Royce, and companies working on the technology in other countries, argue that smaller solutions can be constructed more cheaply and come online more quickly as they can be built in a factory, transported in modules and fitted together “like meccano”, said Rolls Royce’s Alastair Evans. Large nuclear plants are built fully onsite. The idea is that the modules could then be mass produced. However, nothing is rolling off any conveyor belts yet. The only SMR up and running in the world is a 35 MW floating nuclear plant in Russia.

Sounds interesting. Are SMRs the solution to the climate crisis?


“To meet the requirements of the sixth carbon budget, we will need all new cars, vans and replacement boilers to be zero carbon in operation by the early 2030s,” Virginia Crosbie, a Conservative MP from Wales and the original self-proclaimed “atomic kitten”, enthused to fellow MPs. “We must quickly move away from generating that electricity from fossil fuels… Nuclear power, which has been a neglected part of our energy mix, can bridge the gap.”

There is, however, no silver bullet to the climate crisis, and renewables, in conjunction with other existing technologies, look like a better, cheaper solution.

……….. traditional, big nuclear projects look likely to provide only a sliver of the world’s electricity in the future. They are hugely expensive to build, their construction runs over time, and they are frequently struck by technological issues. Moreover, they need to be built close to the sea or a large river for cooling reasons, highlighted Paul Dorfman from the University of Sussex. France has already had to curtail nuclear power output in periods of heatwaves and drought, which are only set to get worse as climate change takes hold. Greater storm surges and eroding coastlines also don’t make the prospect of building by the sea any easier.

SMRs solve few of these issues………… “The latest economic estimates available for SMRs are still quite expensive relative to other ‘clean’ energy alternatives, and it would be pure speculation to assume that will change dramatically until the concept has been more proven,” said Mike Hogan from the not-for-profit Regulatory Assistance Project.

……. the designs still need to get licensed, factories need to be built, orders placed, projects financed, etc,” said Hogan.

In short, it is difficult to see how a technology that will only be operational after the UK power system is supposed to be carbon-free will contribute to climate action in the next ten years or so. And the situation is similar globally.

Other questions around traditional nuclear power stations, such as the thorny issue of waste, would also still apply to SMRs…….

So what is the solution? Renewables, renewables and more renewables?

In short, yes. The costs of solar, wind power and storage continue to fall, and by 2026 global renewable electricity capacity is forecast to rise by more than 60 per cent, to a level that would equal the current total global power capacity of fossil fuels and nuclear combined, says the IEA.

Some argue nuclear can be a clean back-up option for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun isn’t shining. But again, other options already exist, including demand response (for example, plugging in your electric car when there is lots of energy and not switching on your washing machine when the system is under strain), large-scale storage and interconnections between different countries.  

Final word?

Craig Bennett, chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts, summed up the general mood of those less enthused by nuclear than Crosbie and her fans:

“If successive governments had given even half the love and attention they afford to nuclear power to scaling up home insulation, energy efficiency and smart storage technologies, it’s likely we wouldn’t be facing current challenges around energy and household bills, and we would have done a lot more good for the climate and nature.”…..

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scientists lambast EU over gas and nuclear’s ‘green’ energy label

The experts say the inclusion of nuclear energy contravenes the principle of “do no significant harm”, which is vital in ensuring eligibility for the green label.

Scientists lambast EU over gas and nuclear’s ‘green’ energy label, Pressure on Brussels to change draft ‘taxonomy’ rules to guide sustainable investment, Mehreen Khan in Strasbourg, 21 Jan 22,

An EU proposal to label nuclear power and some natural gas as sources of green energy has come under fire from experts hired by Brussels to help draw up the sustainable investment rules. The group of scientists want Brussels to amend its “taxonomy on sustainable finance” to limit use of gas and nuclear energy or risk undermining EU climate goals. Environmentalists and some member states have already criticised the EU over the draft plan, which will allow nuclear energy and some forms of natural gas to be considered as sustainable for decades. The designation is part of rules designed to guide investment into green activities…………..

Nuclear power and some forms of natural gas were included in the draft taxonomy late last year after Brussels was put under severe pressure from some EU governments that wanted to avoid key sources of energy being penalised. They included France, among Europe’s most pro-nuclear countries, and gas-dependent states in eastern Europe.

In the commission’s draft, nuclear power, which has no carbon footprint [ that is, if you don’t count the full guel chain] but produces toxic waste with radiation risks, is considered as sustainable as long as countries can prove they can safely dispose of the waste. New nuclear power permits can be granted until 2045.  
The experts say the inclusion of nuclear energy contravenes the principle of “do no significant harm”, which is vital in ensuring eligibility for the green label. The document demands “substantial changes” to the text in order to ensure that new nuclear power stations contribute to the EU’s climate targets. The experts add that in its current form, the taxonomy would “not be suitable” in helping to classify sustainable finance products. 

The scientific criticism will embolden anti-nuclear countries such as Austria and Luxembourg, which have vowed to sue the commission at the European Court of Justice if the taxonomy is approved in its current form.   
Despite vocal criticism from some corners, the draft is almost certain to be approved as it requires a super-majority of member states and MEPs to reject it. EU legislators cannot propose their own amendments. France, Europe’s biggest nuclear power, has been instrumental in demanding that nuclear technology is given the sustainable label. French president Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday said the inclusion of nuclear “was in line with the protection against climate change”.

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Doomsday clock stays at 100 seconds to midnight.

What the Doomsday Clock is really counting down to, The number of human-made existential risks has ballooned, but the most pressing one is the original: nuclear war. Vox, By Bryan Walsh @bryanrwalsh  Jan 21, 2022  One hundred seconds to midnight. That’s the latest setting of the Doomsday Clock, unveiled yesterday morning by the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

That matches the setting in 2020 and 2021, making all three years the closest the Clock has been to midnight in its 75-year history. “The world is no safer than it was last year at this time,” said Rachel Bronson, the president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “The Doomsday Clock continues to hover dangerously, reminding us how much work is needed to ensure a safer and healthier planet.”

As for why the world is supposedly lingering on the edge of Armageddon, take your pick. Covid-19 has amply demonstrated just how unprepared the world was to handle a major new infectious virus, and both increasing global interconnectedness and the spread of new biological engineering tools mean that the threat from both natural and human-made pathogens will only grow. Even with increasing efforts to reduce carbon emissions, climate change is worsening year after year. New technologies like artificial intelligence, autonomous weapons, even advanced cyberhacking present harder-to-gauge but still very real dangers.

The sheer number of factors that now go into Bulletin’s annual decision can obscure the bracing clarity that the Doomsday Clock was meant to evoke. But the Clock still works for the biggest existential threat facing the world right now, the one that the Doomsday Clock was invented to illustrate 75 years ago. It’s one that has been with us for so long that it has receded into the background of our nightmares: nuclear war — and the threat is arguably greater at this moment than it has been since the end of the Cold War.

The Doomsday Clock, explained

The Clock was originally the work of Martyl Langsdorf, an abstract landscape artist whose husband Alexander had been a physicist with the Manhattan ProjectHe was also a founder of the Bulletin, which began as a magazine put out by scientists worried about the dangers of the nuclear age and is now a nonprofit media organization that focuses on existential risks to humanity…………………….

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment