Did you catch the headlines about a group of scientists trotting out the venerable old Doomsday Clock because the US has not agreed to destroy its economy in the service of climate change alarmism? Whatever its merits during the Cold War (when actual Armageddon was sometimes only literal minutes away), the Doomsday Clock today is about nothing but scientists vying for political power. As the Federalist helpfully explains here:
This desire to translate scientific knowledge into political power is likewise at the root of the climate change debate. Climate change scientists who are trying to instill a sense of crisis in us with Doomsday Clocks aren’t telling us that we have to find better ways to continue our way of life while scrubbing carbon boogers out of the air, they’re telling us they don’t like what they see as under-regulated capitalism.
Having long ago lost the argument that technocratic socialists should run the business world, they’re now resorting to a time-honored tradition among scientists trying to seize the policy initiative: they’re not just saying “listen to me,” but “listen to me or we’re all dead.”
This is not Einstein worrying about nuclear war and peace in the next year, but a group of MacGuyvers jury-rigging wonky arguments together to gain control of the economy based on disaster in the next hundred thousand years. (Think I’m kidding about that long window? Read this.)
Climate change, of course, isn’t nuclear destruction, no matter how many labored metaphors about “slow-motion” Armageddon are brought to service that argument. Only Armageddon is Armageddon, and responsible diplomats and leaders are working on that. The rest of it is a scientific problem we’ll figure out over the next few centuries. (You do your job, scientists, and we policy guys will do ours.)
When the clock is just a general expression of a basket of liberal anxieties, it loses even the small metaphorical power it once had. I care a lot more about Putin’s finger on the Russian trigger—or, God help us, Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders controlling ours—than I do about whether Paris will be a beachfront property in 2270.
So my modest proposal to my friends at the Bulletin is either to change the clock back to a measure of actual nuclear danger from the arms race, or to retire it. Personally, I’m hoping we’ve seen the last of the Doomsday Clock. It was a well-intentioned warning during the Cold War, when counting down the minutes to all-out war was understandable. Today, counting down the minutes to—well, to whatever it is that seems to be scaring Nobel Laureates in any given year—makes no sense and trivializes one of the iconic images of the Cold War.