Saturday, January 14, 2012

As New England experiences a "dramatically" warm winter, the Doomsday Clock moves closer to midnight

The Washington Post has one story:

At the National Arboretum, the white petals of snowdrops — normally an early spring flower — have unfurled. In Maine’s Acadia National Park, lakes still have patches of open water instead of being frozen solid. And in Donna Izlar’s back yard in downtown Atlanta, the apricot tree has started blooming.
It’s not in your imagination. The unusually mild temperatures across several regions of the country in the past few months are disrupting the natural cycles that define the winter landscape.
What began as elevated temperatures at the start of fall in parts of the United States have become “dramatically” warmer around the Great Lakes and New England, according to Deke Arndt, chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. And the Washington area is on track for its fourth-warmest year on record, along with its seventh-warmest December.
That, in turn, has created conditions in which plants are blooming out of season and some birds are lingering before moving south. [And in which New England doesn't get its colorful fall foliage.]
“It’s a weird kind of fall blending right into spring,” said Scott Aker, head of horticulture at the National Arboretum. [HT: Granite Geek.]

Climate Central has the other:
This just in! The Doomsday Clock has just moved one tick closer to midnight. It now stands at a mere five minutes before the hour, and we all know what that means.
OK, maybe we don’t. I took an informal poll of friends and family, and their response, more or less, was: “The what?”
It’s kind of sad, really. Back in the day, the DC really meant something. It was invented in 1947 by the directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists — a magazine founded just two years earlier by Manhattan Project scientists who were horrified by what their newly invented atomic bomb had done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Clock was intended to show, in graphic form, just how dangerous nuclear war really was, and it was initially set at seven minutes to midnight—midnight being the end of the world, more or less.
In 2007, the Clock people decided to diversify their litany of doom: they added climate change to nuclear weapons as a second major threat to the world. “A dire challenge to humanity,” they called it, as they nudged the clock down from seven minutes to midnight to five. It went back up to six in 2010, thanks to small but hopeful signs about nuclear weapons reduction and what were called “pockets of progress” on climate change. And now, as the result of a symposium held on Monday of this week it’s at five again. [HT: Climatide.]

I only know about the Doomsday Clock from Alan Moore's Watchmen. Didn't realize it was still around.

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