In the Shadow of the Mushroom Cloud

23 September, 2019

I grew up during the tail end of the Cold War. An era when tensions between east and west, the Americans and the Soviets, were high. An era when both sides had enough nuclear firepower to wipe out the world several times pointed at each other.

Those were fearful times, growing up in the shadow of the mushroom cloud (as Queen sang). You had to live your life, though — when one side or the other pushed that red button (at least, I imagined it to be red) there would be nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

One measure of those tensions was the Doomsday Clock, which appeared (and still does) on the cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Back in 1984, the clock was at three minutes to midnight. I was a 17 year old high schooler then, and was worried that the world was about to be consumed by atomic fire.

Recently, I wandered over to the Doomsday Clock website. What I read there unnerved me. It seems that we’re at the two minutes to midnight mark. According to the site, the:

[M]ajor threats — nuclear weapons and climate change — were exacerbated this past year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilization in extraordinary danger.

We never learn, do we?

Scott Nesbitt