According to the United Nations the greatest level of peril to humanity since its creation in 1947 is the threat posed by climate change and the growing nuclear threat. On climate, two major UN summits fell dismally short of the action required to limit the long-term warming to 1.5 C above the pre-industrial period set out by the Paris Agreement that scientists say is necessary to prevent a global catastrophe.

The effects were already apparent in the record-breaking heat waves and floods India faced in 2019, and the wildfires that raged from the Arctic to Australia. The UN are not able to identify what the average temperature for the pre-industrial period was. (1850-1900).

The IPCC have warned that climate change represents an urgent and a potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet. In recognition of this, the central aim is to pursue efforts to limit global temperature rise

to no more than 1.5°C above average pre-industrial levels (1880-1900). In their reports they are unable say what the temperatures were during this period. The ABC, who have done their research on the subject, quote climate scientists as saying: “The methods used to record temperatures in 1896 (pre-industrial period were flawed” Which pretty much explains why the IPCC have no reliable climate data before 1900.

Closer to Midnight         Click to Enlarge 

“If humankind pushes the climate into the opposite of an ice age,” said Sivan Kartha, a scientist at the Stockholm Environmental Institute, “we have no reason to be confident that such a world will remain hospitable to human civilization.”

The danger level was compounded by information warfare and disruptive technologies ranging from deep fake video and audio to the militarization of space and the development of hypersonic weapons.

“We are now expressing how close the world is to catastrophe in seconds—not hours, or even minutes,” said Rachel Bronson, president of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in announcing the change.

Threat to Humanity   Click to enlarge

The decision on the clock is taken by panels of experts, including 13 Nobel laureates.

It was originally set at seven minutes to midnight, and the previous worst—two minutes to midnight—held from 2018 to 2019 as well as 1953. The furthest it has ever been is 17 minutes, following the end of the Cold War in 1991.

Scrapped treaty

On the nuclear front, the arms control boundaries that helped prevent catastrophe over the last half century are being dismantled and may be gone by next year, said subject expert Sharon Squassoni.

This includes the demise in 2019 of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, with the US and Russia entering a new competition to deploy once banned weapons. The US has suggested it won’t extend New START, an arms reduction treaty signed in 2010.

“This year could see not just the complete collapse of the Iran nuclear deal,” added Squassoni, with Tehran boosting its enrichment efforts.

And despite initial hopes US President Donald Trump’s unorthodox approach to North Korea may produce results, no real progress ensued, said Squassoni, with Pyongyang instead vowing to press ahead with a new strategic weapon.


  1. Wayne says:

    I have friends in Hobart who would not mind another 1.2 C, “the so called tipping point” nor would people I know in Ballarat or Geelong.
    Not that there is any data in existence that supports the view that the earth’s climate is anomalous or changing in a dangerous manner. Because the earth is NOT perpendicular to the Sun, the inclined axis gives us a choice of latitudes to where we would prefer to live.
    Average Maximum and Minimum in some Australian Cities below:.
    Adelaide, South Australia 22 C/12 C,
    Albury, New South Wales 22 C/9 C,
    Ballarat, Victoria 18 C/7 C,
    Bendigo, Victoria 21 C/8 C,
    Brisbane, Queensland 25 C/16 C,
    Bunbury, Western Australia 23 C/11 C,
    Cairns, Queensland 29 C/21 C ,
    Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 20 C/7 C,
    Darwin, Northern Territory 32 C/23 C,
    Geelong, Victoria 20 C/ 9 C,
    Gold Coast, Queensland 25 C/17 C,
    Gosford, New South Wales 23 C/11 C,
    Hobart, Tasmania 17 C/9 C.

  2. Ray says:

    The NOAA annual climate report for 1997 showed an average global temperature of 16.91 C (62.45 F), more than 2 degrees C hotter than 2019.
    NOAA admitted they were using the wrong method and have left it online.
    If they can make such huge errors in 1997 it does call into question the accuracy of historical data, particularly the pre-industrial period from which they calculate the extent of global warming.

    Climate scientists have told the ABC that methods used to measure temperature in 1896, recorded as a year of extreme heat, were flawed and heatwaves of today are hotter! Reporters: Sophie Meixner and Daniel Nancarrow Posted 21 Dec 2019.

  3. Geraldine says:

    The Doomsday Clock hardly moved, despite the Nuclear Arms Treaty, when Regan was in office.
    It has actually got closer now that they have included climate change I suppose.

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