By 1949 the worst fear of the western world happened - we got confirmation that the Commies had tested a nuclear weapon of their own.
And so the clock moved. 3 minutes to midnight. No wonder school kids were taught to hide under the desk with paper bags on their heads. In Russia, they were probably doing the same thing, believing the capitalist pigs were likely to launch a nuclear first strike. It went up and down a bit, another minute closer in 1953, back to 12 minutes before midnight in 1963. Then back to 3 minutes in 1984 because Reagan did not cave in to the USSR and unilaterally disarm.
But then something weird happened. The USSR collapsed. What happened to the Doomsday Clock? Not much, it only went back to 17 minutes until our doom. Yes, even without the other superpower in the Cold War we were somehow only .01 from nuclear holocaust instead of .011.
Donations must have dropped because after that they quickly learned the error of their ways and now they keep contributors firmly in a state of panic - because, you know, the only thing that prevents world destruction is giving money to political science majors so they can update their website.
The newest causes are synthetic biology, nuclear energy and, of course, global warming, not to mention blanket hysteria about “technologies not created with malice aforethought" which, since we are dealing with one particular political and cultural demographic, is likely to mean genetically modified foods and modern medicine, like vaccines.
So we are back at 3 minutes until midnight again. But why wait for Time magazine or Slate to shriek about a completely arbitrary change in a completely fabricated metric when you can become a journalist yourself and shriek well before a corporate conglomerate instructs you to lament The End Of The World? They have made it easy with their handy Doomsday Dashboard and I have to tell you, it's impressive. Finally, all of the things that doomsday prophets want to think about in one easy location.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is basically a secular version of one of those TV preachers who says you need to send money so he can help you reach heaven - but in their case they want to keep stuff from happening, like actual clean energy or nuclear bombs going off. It works, they have long claimed.
LISA: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
HOMER: Thank you, honey.
LISA: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
HOMER: Oh, how does it work?
LISA: It doesn't work. It's a stupid rock.
LISA: But I don't see any tigers around here, do you?
HOMER: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
Don't buy any magic rocks from people who care more about promoting fear and doubt than they do people.