Mar 012007

Bannerman has become aware, thanks Tuesday’s Senate broadcast on ABC Newsradio, of the Doomsday Clock having been altered in mid-January. According to the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago, the current state of play in global politics and international affairs requires that the Doomsday Clock move closer to midnight.

Since 1947, the clock has been altered 18 times since it’s inception in 1947 as a representation of humanities proximity to annihilation through the use of nuclear weapons. Ironically, Bannerman notes, it was during the so-called Cold War that the clock spent a majority of its history much further from the rhetorical midnight than it currently stands. The most recent alteration being from seven minutes to five minutes to midnight. This alteration being as a direct consequence of North Korea’s nuclear weapons test in 2006; Iran’s persistence in pursuing a program of nuclear enrichment, which has the potential for nuclear weapons production; and the United State’s equally disturbing persistence in assessing nuclear weapons as useful utilities in warfare.

The statement from the Board of Directors makes fascinating reading for those interested in the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Bannerman notes especially the inclusion by the Board in their deliberations, of climate change and it’s longer term impacts. Specifically….

We have concluded that the dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as
those posed by nuclear weapons. The effects may be less dramatic in the short
term than the destruction that could be wrought by nuclear explosions, but over
the next three to four decades climate change could cause drastic harm to the
habitats upon which human societies depend for survival

Note that emphasised passage. ’habitats upon which human societies depend for survival’ This, insofar as Bannerman can determine, is the crux of the climate change denials by so many today, predominately those with the most ability to make the necessary changes to the way we live on this planet. Short term thinking says ’it won’t happen to me’, and in the main, that’s quite correct. 2005 was the hottest year on record, whereas 2006 was relatively benign where rampant weather is concerned. An aberration. A one-off. So much for climate change. However, as the Atomic Scientists note, it’s the next thirty to forty years which will show the proof of this particular pudding. With regard to Bannerman himself, if he’s still alive in forty years time, he’ll consider himself terribly unlucky. The world will be undeniably shittier by then.

Scientific evidence of changes being wrought in the planet’s climate are irrefutable. The losses of species through habitat destruction as a direct result of climate change is happening daily. Polar Bears in Greenland and Alaska are in diminishing numbers because the ice upon which they hunt during the northern summer, is shrinking. Baleen whales in the Antarctic are spending longer in southern waters feeding due to a drop in the breeding rate of their food stocks, krill. They spend longer feeding and less time breeding. These are two examples, of indirect influences upon habitats which climate change brings. That humanity has either brought about this change, or merely exacerbated what may be a cyclic planetary event, is irrelevant. That humanity is an integral part of the change process cannot be denied. The process is slow, but none the less insidious.

On the issue of nuclear weapons, Bannerman is ambivalent. The Iran issue is far from resolved in the negative, despite what vested interests in the United States might have us believe. North Korea, even if it does re-neg on the recent agreement to rescind their nuclear weapons program in exchange for handouts from the West, remains an enigma, and doubtless will be so until that society eventually collapses and the peninsula unites again. Mind you, reader, that is the only element of the North Korean issue upon which Bannerman agrees with John Bolton on. The United States holds most of the 26,000 nuclear weapons which the Atomic Scientists mention in their statement. A great percentage of those weapons are useable, which is to say, they have been updated and are maintained in a state of readiness. Those weapons currently held by the former Soviet Union states, while potent, are highly likely not to be as useable as those of the U.S.. That argument aside, the politics of Mutually Assured Destruction continues to ensure that while-ever humanity maintains arsenals of nuclear weapons, none of the holders will dare risk using them in anger against another nation-state, nuclear armed or not, for fear of being permanently silenced by the other holders. M.A.D. was once volubly promoted, especially during the so-called cold war, but is not so popular now that the two major proponents are ’friends’. The doctrine, however, remains valid.

Many nations hold or are reputed to hold nuclear weapons. None have used them in the heat of conflict since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki detonations in the closing days of the second world war. In the Bannerman’s opinion, none will. He feels that whether or not Korea actually has anything that goes bang in a big way, Iran installs 3,000 or 3 million centrifuges, Israel finally admits to having nuclear weapons or countless other unknown nations achieve nuclear status, nothing is going to happen. M.A.D. guarantees it. This business of America doing a song and dance over her ideological opposites exercising their sovereign rights is pure and simple petulance. Not that she can actually do anything other than negotiate diplomatically.

So, 2355 hours and ticking. Someone open a window. It’s getting warmer in here.