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HUMANITY DOOMSDAY CLOCK - Moves forward to 2125 due to election of US President trump.

Estimate of the time that Humanity will go extinct or civilization will collapse. The HUMANITY DOOMSDAY CLOCK moves forward to 2125 due to US President trump's abandonment of climate change goals. Apologies to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists for using the name.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

INQUISITION 2: National Security


Having grown up in a world where children were directed to hide under a school desk to avoid being incinerated in a nuclear holocaust, I think about National Security, specifically the Economic National Security of the United States of America in the 21st Century.

The question today is stark: What will be the effects on Americans of the coming species extinction?

The Inquisitions here are not intended to be a definitive statement of these issues since the United States has a large bureaucracy devoted to these very problems. This space is simply summarizing some of the more obvious questions.

INTERNAL SECURITY

The foundation of National Security is always based on Economic National Security. True security requires that all the citizens of a country share the values and beliefs which guide the leaders. When that happens, then the leaders are given leeway and can move the country forward.

Such a country has a society where few feel excluded or marginalized. The United States of America enjoyed that shared perception for many years, but is currently losing that perception among many of its citizens. This is a potential security threat. Such a threat cannot be managed with police and security. It requires a feeling of inclusion.

But, when the perception of shared hopes is lost, then the nation's leaders are held to a fine standard and are afraid of the population. We have seen just that in many countries recently. Populations which are abused by the leaders want to kill the leaders in turn. Such a cycle creates increasing violence and death. Such a country is weak.

A secure country allows all its citizens to buy into the country and feel a part of it. Once the feeling of belonging is established, then people unleash their creative powers. Then do material living standards rise.

But, material standards won't rise until and unless citizens have that feeling of belonging.

President Obama was correct when he called for American Muslims to be allowed and encouraged to participate in all aspects of United States society. That is the best way to achieve internal security.

As we approach the extinction event, there will be more pressures on society from more desperate people. If the United States demonstrates the weakness of social and economic exclusion or lack of hope among its citizens, then our internal security will be fragile.

The pressures will come from terror, disease, climate change, military action and despair.

FOREIGN TERROR

There will always be people who seek to destroy a strong society for any number of reasons. If the society is multi-national, as is ours today, then some terrorists from one country will seek to harm the citizens of another.

If that sort of movement becomes organized, then it may require the US to campaign militarily inside another country in order to secure the homeland.

Applying the concept of internal security described above, it is obvious that some countries are more secure than others. And, it is equally obvious that some citizens from a less secure country may try to harm citizens of a more secure country.

As the extinction event becomes more real to more people, terrorist acts will increase.

This is the justification for much of the security apparatus today.

PANDEMICS

Anti-biotic resistant bacteria and virulent viruses will overwhelm the medical system of the United States as the event comes closer.

A country which cannot manage the health of all its citizens both armed forces and non-military citizens is a weak country.

The only advantage the United States may have is that it will be even worse in other countries.

The USA may exhaust its supplies through caring for the ill of other places in addition to our own. And, that is an effort we make to ensure our own population's health.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change is occurring and will increase. The underlying dynamic of increased carbon emissions, which is the primary cause of climate change, is well documented and irreversible in the practical world.

The major effects of climate change will be sea level rises and droughts in food producing areas.

The droughts will reduce the ability of our species to produce food at a time when the population is expanding rapidly.

Wars will be fought for water and food.

MILITARY ACTIONS AND DESPAIR

We are seeing wars waged today for religious reasons.

But the underlying causes of these wars may well be the feelings of exclusion and loss of hope on the part of many marginalized people.

As the loss of hope increases we can expect more military and terror actions.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Debaltseve Moves DOOMSDAY Clock to 2145


Barry, My Liege:

Continued Russian backed aggression in Ukraine kills peace treaty and raises threat of widening war.

Russian forces take rail hub on their way to Mariupol.

Details here: http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/18/after-debaltseve-what-comes-next-in-the-fight-for-eastern-ukraine-putin-poroshenko/

With Russia's endgame mired in the fog of war, the DOOMSDAY Clock is moved forward one year to 2145 due to the increased risk of a wider war.

Your faithful servant,

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Personal 'Inquisitions'

So, I'm not sure if the impetus for these 'Personal Inquisitions' or reflections comes from facing my personal mortality or from contemplating the species mortality we all face. No matter, maybe some of the questions here will be of interest.

I'll try not to be bombastic or didactic, but I don't know what will happen.

INQUISITIONS - PREFACE

First, a little more background on using the word 'Inquisition'.

An 'Inquisition' is simply a question.

According to Google's dictionary, an inquisition is "a period of prolonged and intensive questioning or investigation, as in 'she relented in her determined inquisition and offered help'. Synonyms: interrogation, questioning, quizzing, cross-examination, investigation, inquiry, inquest, hearing. Informal grilling, examination"

Although the word is also used to describe an 'ecclesiastical tribunal established by Pope Gregory IX circa 1232', the word is used here in its more generic meaning and does not reference any religious 'Inquisition'.

INQUISITION 1: Live a Good and Moral Life

Or, more completely:

'How can I conduct my daily affairs with decency and compassion while being convinced absolutely that the human species will go extinct during the lifetime of my great-great grandchildren?'

After accepting the conclusion that the human species will go extinct soon, my first reaction was a feeling of complete helplessness. It is like watching a train wreck in slow motion when the train contains all your loved ones.

The 1993 movie 'Fugitive' with Harrison Ford has a scene where his character is watching just such a train wreck. It is a great visual image.

It happened that this revelation occurred simultaneously with my parent's passing.

Second, when considering the species event as opposed to the personal event, there are no tears of relief or comfort for angst this large. The likely reality is stark and unforgiving. And, there is nothing I can do to change the outcome. It will just happen.

The personal event is similarly stark, but it is less traumatic since it was expected and natural.

While considering either event, some can look to their God for relief, but I am not a religious person. There is no comfort for me in a 'belief' in any sort of God or supreme power.

It is apparent that the powers which control the Universe are vast and beyond our ability to understand.

It may be that the human species has constructed the idea of God and of religions to make sense of the unknowable. However, I would rather follow our collective curiosity toward greater understanding of truth than deliberately close off that inquiry by adopting some human construction of the universe. It is better to live with wonder and awe than it is to live with fear and ignorance.

To repeat the opening question, the question is this: how can I live decently in a world of unknowable powers and the certainty of impending doom?

I choose a dual path. First, I make every effort to alert people to the evidence supporting the extinction hypothesis. Perhaps there is a miracle waiting whereby we can avoid the pain and suffering that will accompany the extinction.

Perhaps that hope is merely 'pissing in the wind' and will accomplish nothing.

But, at least it is an effort in a positive direction.

One approach toward positive action is to take an idea from the Stoic philosophers, badly paraphrased as this: The past is over, the future is mostly unknowable and the only thing we possess is today.

That translates to a daily action plan of focusing on the things that I can do today while simultaneously letting go of any and all past actions

And, since any action has consequences for the future, I try to make decisions which will bring about a better future.

And here is the rub: there is no long term future when an extinction event looms ahead.

Some might argue that such a viewpoint suggests a hedonistic and acquisitive life is the best choice. There are lots of examples of that choice, regardless of any concern about species extinction.

But, pleasure and accumulation as a life style do not suit my temperament.

I acknowledge that I am singularly lucky to live as an adult today in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. There are benefits and rewards beyond measure and beyond our ability to enjoy them all.

But all the while, I recognize that my descendants will pay the price for my luxury and I am saddened by that. It is doubly sad that they are not even aware of the fate they face.

All I can do is to apologize in advance.

If my great-great grandchildren are reading this, then I say to them: The disasters you suffer were largely unavoidable. We could have changed things so you would have a better outcome, but we did not recognize the dangers in time and we were not able to overcome our behavioral flaws to act as a species instead of as selfish individuals.

Some of us regret that more than words can express.

To the question: What can I do today to make the troubled lives around me better?

More than regret and apology, what can I do?

Perhaps it is simply this: recognize explicitly that most people really do want to make the world a better place. So tell them - each and every one you see doing that. Tell them that their efforts are noticed by you and that they are doing a good job.