Thursday, January 18, 2007
When scientists talk, why listen?
“The Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' [BAS] ticking nudge to the world's conscience, moved two minutes closer to nuclear midnight yesterday, the closest to doomsday it has been since the Cold War.” Two Minutes Closer to Doomsday - washingtonpost.com (emphasis mine)
Now I’m sure these scientists are bright and all but why should anyone give their insight into the world’s political scene anymore respect and credence than one would give, say, Dennis Kucinich’s. A lifetime of playing with isotopes may give you some expertise in creating certain weapons; it gives you little to share when it comes to discussing how and when they’ll be used.
As if to specifically trying to prove my point, Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University and a former member of the BAS board, opines:
"Bush the father's policy decisions produced the biggest one-time move away from midnight the clock ever experienced and Bush the son's policy decisions have pushed the clock almost as close to midnight as it's ever been"
Here’s some of what the scientists list out as the factors for their pessimism:
- "The Pakistan-based network that provided nuclear technologies to Libya, North Korea, and Iran, is an example of the new challenges confronting the international community."
- "More than 1400 metric tons of highly enriched uranium and approximately 500 tons of plutonium are distributed worldwide at some 140 sites, in unguarded civilian power plants and university research reactors, as well as in military facilities."
- "The prospect of civilian nuclear power development in countries around the world raises further concerns about the availability of nuclear materials. Growth in nuclear power is anticipated to be especially high in Asia, where Japan is planning to bring on line five new plants by 2010, and China intends to build 30 nuclear reactors by 2020."
- "Several factors are driving the turn to nuclear power— aging nuclear reactors, rising energy demands, a desire to diversify energy portfolios and reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and the need to reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change. Yet expansion of nuclear power increases the risks of nuclear proliferation." "Doomsday Clock" Moves Two Minutes Closer To Midnight (BAS press release)
(Interestingly, they also refer to Global Warming (of course) as a danger but then they list it as an influence in pushing people toward more nuclear energy. So the Warming is a danger but combating it is also a danger. Good to know.)
Can you identify what the cliché-spouting Thomas Blanton is talking about? North Korea and Iran didn’t start their nuclear because of Bush-provided incentives. China and Japan aren’t building more reactors in response to the President’s much-maligned tax cuts. Just because he’s a scientist doesn’t mean he deserves to be quoted.
Profiles in Courage Sighting: I guess I’m just not appreciating how brave these sheltered brainiacs are:
“Lawrence M. Krauss, professor of physics and astronomy at Case Western Reserve University, an (sic) a BAS sponsor, said: "In these dangerous times, scientists have a responsibility to speak truth to power especially if it might provoke actions to reduce threats from the preventable technological dangers currently facing humanity. To do anything else would be negligent."