Sustainability Countdown

Premise: In 1947, the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago published a symbolic clockface: the analogy was “minutes to midnight”, where midnight represents destruction of the human race by nuclear war.

The number of minutes before midnight, a measure of the degree of nuclear, environmental, and technological threats, is updated periodically. The clock is currently set to five minutes to midnight, having been advanced by two minutes on January 17, 2007. The Doomsday Clock caught the imagination of the media and the world, and has helped focus political and societal pressure towards alleviating the threat.

While the Atomic Scientists focus on nuclear threats, the environmental threats facing the world, while not as immediate, are equally important. Changes in population, global warming and climate change, depletion of non-renewable energy and other resources, food production methods and capabilities, water availability and usage, renewable resource adoption and deployment, recycling issues, and technology in various arenas are some of the factors that affect the sustainability of the world.

Project: Expressing the long-term sustainability of the planet in this format may be somewhat controversial and dramatic, but will help focus attention and energy on solving the problems that threaten the human race on planet Earth.

Partners: We seek institutional partners who have data, or can model the key variables of sustainability for the human race on Planet Earth. The process of envisioning a sustainable future will provide signposts and goals in a number of areas which public policy institutions and political leaders can use to generate the cultural and economic changes the world will have to undergo as it moves towards sustainability. Please contact us if you are an academic institution interested in partnering with us.