Scientific debate on Doomsday escalation

Who better to have a debate over the escalation of the Doomsday clock from 5 minutes before midnight to 3 minutes before midnight than that renowned atomic and climate scientist Lynn Prentice.

I had commented at The standard:

“Ironically for a Bulletin of Atomic Scientists there doesn’t seem to be a lot of science involved in tweaking their clock. It seems to be based on perceptions.”

Prentice launched an onslaught of science against me.

Perhaps people who are interested in the physical measurable world and less in the imaginary have a better “subjective” opinion than you do?

I believe they do a statistical sampling.

But based on the current population and that effects we are seeing now are far more irreversible than just dropping bombs, then I’d agree with them. Of course I have a science degree in the area of most concern?

What is the basis of your opinion? Navel hair?

My response:

“I believe they do a statistical sampling” is not very scientific. They don’t cite any methodology in their announcement. Can you cite anything on their methodology or do you just have a belief in it? ?

How can you do statistical sampling of the nuclear threat?

“Modernization of huge arsenals” is mentioned but they don’t explain how that would make the weapons more dangerous, I would hope that they would be making them safer.

I can understand that “Disarmament machinery that has ground to a halt” might not reduce the risk but why would it significantly (from 5 to 3) increase the risk?

“From 2009 to 2013, the Obama administration cut only 309 warheads” shouldn’t increase the risk markedly.

“Progress on climate and nuclear weapons issues has been too limited in recent years, according to the Board statement” – again, maybe a reason not to increase the minutes but reason to change it from 5 to 3?

What they seem to have done is substantially increase the climate risk.

Atomic scientists are presumably not climate scientists (ok, some of them cite climate connections but that seems odd for a Bulletin of Atomic Scientists).

The climate risks have been talked about for decades, it isn’t some sudden new risk or suddenly escalated risk.

And atomic scientists are presumably not psychologists who are able to assess the risk of nuclear nation leaders going momentarily mental.

There’s plenty of dramatic statements in their announcement but no sign of scientific backing apart from stating they are scientists.

I’m surprised to see them nearly double the risk in three years. Without any apparent science.


“Of course I have a science degree in the area of most concern?”

Climate science?
Atomic Weaponry science?
Risk Assessment science?

When did you last study or research in “the area of most concern”?

I’m interested to see your scientific backing for a change of risk from 5 to 3. You must have some good science to support “then I’d agree with them”.

My impression is they are confusing a need for urgent action with the imminence of apocalypse. One scientists says “by the end of this century to profoundly transform the Earth’s climate” but also “We all need to respond now”.

We call upon world leaders to take coordinated and rapid action to drastically reduce global emissions of heat-trapping gases, especially carbon dioxide.

What is your scientific assessment of the consequences of “rapid action to drastically reduce global emissions of heat-trapping gases, especially carbon dioxide”?

There must be some scientific analysis of the possible and probable positive and negative effects of rapid and drastic reductions in global emissions.