Catastrophe is a mere 100 seconds away. Behind the innocuous picture of daily life, the threat of the end of civilization lurks closer than ever before.
The Doomsday Clock is a symbol of the likelihood of human-caused disasters. Throughout the years, it has ticked forwards and backwards, carefully judged and moved by the Science and Security Board Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. On January 23, it has been inched ever closer to midnight, the mark of global calamity. The world is now at an unprecedented 100 second brink before the fall of civilization. “To: Leaders and citizens of the world,” the Current Time section of their website reads. “Closer than ever: it is 100 seconds to midnight.”
“Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change,” their official statement declared. “The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.”
The threat of nuclear disaster is nothing surprising. From the end of the World War II to now, it has been made abundantly clear that the destructive power of nuclear weapons is enough to level cities. Climate change is no less threatening; both deserve the same amount of scrutiny and preventative measure, with the welfare of humanity hanging in the balance.
For decades, irrefutable evidence that the climate situation has growing potential for serious repercussions has piled up. Yet emissions continue to increase and the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is steadily climbing. Around the world, evidence of the catastrophic potential of climate change manifests in disasters. Droughts, floods, storms and wildfires alike begin to plague countries with more frequency and intensity. Global temperatures continue to rise, each fraction of a degree coming with more complications. As trends continue, a climate apocalypse becomes a more and more likely possibility. Lack of food and water, refugees from devastated countries intense storms, floods and droughts with increasing regularity, rising sea levels submerging entire countries.
Even more terrifying and even more pressing than the climate emergency is the notable lack of governmental action. Coupled with vague promises or halfhearted dismissals, emissions continue to steadily reach new highs. They don’t decrease, they don’t move towards the essential goal of zero net emissions; they do the very opposite. Reactions range from denial of the overwhelming scientific evidence or choosing to look to the future “with optimism” instead of the urgency the situation requires. For decades there has been a lack of any concrete and substantial solutions to the excess carbon in the atmosphere. The largest emitters continue to churn out carbon; continue to look the other way; continue to prioritize lining the pockets of those already rich over the needs of the planet.
Still, as long as people believe reversing climate change is impossible, it will be. Fatalism and inaction will not cause change even if it is possible to turn things around. Even if things cannot be fully fixed, they can still be improved. Saving a single life is a worthy cause, even with other people striving to save millions. Action is not worthless, small changes are still changes. Even if just for the sake of your own personal integrity, even if such action is as small as changing your lightbulbs or recycling; action is not worthless.