Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

29 Oct 2013

Time to environmental midnight

Posted by Michael Keating

A global survey of concern about the impact of environmental change on humanity’s future shows ongoing concern, with little change over the past year.

The Asahi Glass Foundation in Japan calculated the responses of more than 1,300 environmental experts selected from governments, academic institutions, NGOs, corporations and mass media. They were asked to measure their sense of crisis “about the continuance of the human race as the global environment continues to deteriorate.” They measured their level of concern in terms of minutes to midnight on the Environmental Doomsday Clock.

Image of Asahi Foundation Environmental Doomsday Clock

Environmental Doomsday Clock

This is the latest survey by the foundation, which started in 1992, when the clock only read 7:49 pm. This year it moved to 9:19 pm.

It is useful to look at the regional differences. The greatest levels of concern were from North America and Oceania. The latter is no surprise given fears that sea level rise from global warming will make some low-lying islands uninhabitable. The lowest concern levels were in Asia and the Middle East.

Some of the most interesting reading is in the comments from people surveyed. Some make very specific recommendations. Others call for a fundamental rethink of how we consume.

The Asahi Foundation’s Environmental Doomsday Clock is modeled on the Doomsday Clock, created by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in 1947 to represent the threat of nuclear war to human survival. More recently it has also reflected other risks, such as climate change.

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