On Campus: The Weigh-In

Faculty experts shed light on news that makes us go, “wha?”


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has maintained a Doomsday Clock since 1947, with midnight symbolizing the end of the world. For the past three years, the clock has stood at 11:55 p.m. This past January, based in part on new findings about climate change, they moved the clock to 11:57—the second closest to midnight it has been since 1958, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union began testing thermonuclear bombs. How worried should we be?

doomsday clock


Jason Briner, associate professor of geology and global climate researcher

We should be fairly worried. Obviously, the threat differs from that of an all-out nuclear war, but the ramification of our climate system maintaining its current trajectory will be the end of the world as we know it. The question among 97 percent of climate scientists is not whether the planet is warming, or whether humans play a major role, or even what we can do to stop it. Rather, we are now wondering how fast climate will change, how much sea levels will rise and whether world leaders can implement the necessary changes to soften the blow. It will require a world of effort, including from you and me.