The Doomsday Clock is Still Ticking and from my viewpoint is ticking on past the key date – the first atomic bomb was tested at Alamogordo, NM, at 5:29:45 a.m. Mountain War Time on July 16, 1945. That is the date which will be recorded in the geological record as the first spread world-wide of radioactive fallout. There are more dates after that, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and then numerous, test explosions for a total of about 2,056 of them about half of the tests were underground. At any time in the not too distant future there will be a more distinct line in the sedimentary record documenting the Doomsday events. The previous record of testing will be spread over some fifty years of sedimentation from the above mentioned ground testing but the Doomsday event will be very precise with a high percentage of the 30,000 bombs in the world’s arsenals being detonated within a few hours. That’s my starting point and it makes a lot more sense to me that the silly Doomsday Countdown Clock put out by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago, that try to guess how much time we have left. That is a fools game! In all likelihood when that date comes the clock will be set at some time before their Midnight and their clock will be incinerated at that optimistic setting. I agree with the The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
author Nassim Talab who says that these types of events are impossible to predict and the only reasonable response is to make before hand the adjustments which will permit survival of the unlikely event when it finally arrives. If one assumes that with ever-increasing population and ever decreasing resources there will come a time where those factors alone are sufficient to trigger a major war, then it will occur. That being assumed then it is only a Black Swan kind of timing problem and the human response should be obvious. That obvious action is to prepare to endure a Doomsday Event and have some preparations for human and planetary survival – to have The EarthArk Project in place before those events take place.
It is with these kinds of thoughts in mind that I attended a lecture here at the University of California, Berkeley called, Defending the Homeland Against Weapons of Mass Destruction: STEP Seminar a presentation by Speaker: Dr. Mim John, Vice President Emeritus, Sandia National Laboratories. Sponsor: Graduate Assembly I didn’t know what the venue of this lecture would be but as it turned out it was about a dozen students of a student interest club called STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering Policy Group). The seminar blurb read:
The threat of another serious terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland has brought into focus the nation’s need to prepare for some of the worst cases imaginable – namely, the threats posed by nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, or in common parlance, WMD (weapons of mass destruction). The three WMD modalities pose distinct challenges, but they can be addressed from a common framework from which technical and operational commonalities can be exploited and priorities unique to each modality established. Drawing on nearly a decade of work by the Department of Defense’s Defense Science Board and the Threat Reduction Advisory Committee, the speaker will provide an example of such a framework and point out the technical challenges associated both generally in defending against WMD and uniquely with
The lecture was an excellent overview of the Homeland Security problems pointing in general to the three major weapons threats as being: (1) Nuclear, (2) Biological and (3) Advanced chemical. Each of these was analyzed in general terms as to what they were and the various steps which might be implemented in protecting the US from these threats. There wasn’t anything which was particularly spectacular or secret but the presentation gave an excellent overview of what the various problems were and what was being done and some hope for what could be done.
The questions were much better than usually come from an audience but ultimately, from my perspective they didn’t break out of the mental box. They generally were based on how we might cope with a possible attack in the next several years and the general mindset seemed to consider ten or twenty years to be the long end of the time frame for discussing these types of issues. Also the issues were always framed in the use of a few WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) and not a major conflict which employes WOEs (Weapons of Extermination). I am much more pessimistic and although an event or two of this type may happen in the next couple of decades it seems more probable that in these students life expectancy of sixty more years that a vastly more serious Black Swan event happens and a major atomic war occurs. That being the case, if it turns out to be the case, then these students lives will end with that Doomsday Event and not the WMD event which worried them at this seminar.
After it appeared that everyone who was going to ask a question had done so I got off onto my rant, which I tried to limit to my most pertinent questions. But, I knew my questions would bring up the giggle factor, which it did at first but then it seemed to get a little more interest even though I brought up The EarthArk Project. It bothered me that even this audience, which was probably as informed as any on the student body part of the campus, didn’t seem to be all that far beyond what was available in TIME magazine. Only the speaker and the moderator responded knowingly when I asked, “What about Ken Alibeck?” I asked that in such a way so as to be totally open-ended but it was absolutely appropriate, at that particular moment, and got a five-minute answer. But what really disappointed me was after another question about what happens after Doomsday and that there seemed to be no backup plan for humanity after the Events. I encountered this before in top US government and foreign officials. Like when I talked with Harold Palmer Smith and Jacques Bouchard. All of these people seemed to have convinced themselves that it just is too horrible to contemplate and so it can’t happen. I recommend they listen to the recording of President Kennedy, Secretary of State McNamara and Chief of the US Strategic Air Command Curtis LeMay in the hour just before the USSR pulled back their ship transporting strange boxes to Cuba during the Cuba Missle Crisis. LeMay was shouting angrily at Kennedy that we must attack with everything we have – NOW.
The world is headed for a Black Swan Doomsday and there is not backup plan like The EarthArk Project in anyone in authority’s mind.