Friday, January 19, 2007

Doomsday Isn't What it Used to Be

While I hate to take on the rather impressive assembly of minds at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists I don't think this is entirely credible. How, exactly, are we ex ante closer to Armageddon than for large parts of the Cold War?

They cite the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programmes but how do these threaten global annihilation? Even if the worst comes to the worst you'll have a few cities plus one country gone; no fun at all but that is hardly the end of the world, is it?

Also, while climate change could conceivably wipe out the human race if it gets really hot not even those seriously worried about it, Stern for example, expect this to happen within the next hundred years. Falls in agricultural output and an increase in flooding aren't quite doomsday. Within this century global warming isn't an 'end of the world' event.


Dave Cole said...

I thought your argument for keeping nuclear weapons was that MAD worked in the cold war?

Matthew Sinclair said...

I think it prevented war and that we generally were some distance from an apocalypse, even during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but that doesn't mean we're closer now.

To be honest I don't think we've spent much time past 6pm. We'll be fine.