Former California Gov. Jerry Brown and fellow “Doomsday Clock” adherents warn that humanity is in the midst of a “new Cold War” that’s “equivalent to the most dangerous year of the first Cold War.”
Brown and former Defense Secretary William Perry, both with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, explained the group’s decision to keep the Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight. It boils down to two main threats, they say — global warming and nuclear weapons.
“Humanity faces two dire and simultaneous existential threats: nuclear weapons and climate change. Tragically, things did not improve on either front in the last 12 months,” Brown and Perry wrote in an op-ed CNN published Thursday.
“We have to go back 66 years, to 1953, to find a time of equal danger: The Soviet Union had just tested a hydrogen bomb,” Brown and Perry wrote. “Eastern Europe was in the iron grip of the Soviet Union. There was danger of a military conflict erupting in Berlin. And US troops in West Germany, fully expecting an invasion, were preparing to use tactical nuclear weapons against the invaders.”
However, Brown and Perry also fretted about a supposed rise “in the intentional corruption of the information ecosystem on which modern civilization depends” from “nationalist leaders” who insist “their lies were truth and that the truth was ‘fake news.’”
“These intentional attempts to distort reality work to exaggerate social divisions, undermine trust in science and diminish confidence in elections and democratic institutions,” the two Democrats wrote.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 to “convey threats to humanity and the planet.” Midnight represents global apocalypse, but the clock is not an actual scientific measurement of risk.
Brown announced in 2018 he would become the executive chairman of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists after leaving the governor’s office in January. Brown served as California’s governor for three terms and regularly sounded the alarm on man-made global warming.
Brown called global warming an “apocalyptic threat” in August after the release of a state-funded climate report. Brown told CBS’s “Face of the Nation” in November that global warming will be so bad in five years that even skeptics would become alarmists.
“I’ll tell you, every year it’s going to get clearer and clearer so that I think in less than five years even the worst skeptics are going to be believers,” Brown said.
Brown’s national profile rose in recent years by challenging the policies of President Donald Trump. For example, the former governor vowed to implement the Paris climate accord after Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw.
Brown signed into law in 2018 legislation mandating California get 100 percent of its electricity from “zero-carbon” sources by 2045, then issued executive orders requiring the state to “maintain net negative emissions thereafter.”
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