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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Scientists declare the sky is falling

    Chicken Little was bumped on the head by an acorn, and started screaming, “”The sky is falling!”” to whomever would listen. On his hysterical dash to tell the king, he and his gullible barnyard pals were gobbled up by Foxy Loxy.

    The moral? Sometimes people jump into hysterics for no reason, but if Isaac Newton had shouted “”The sky is falling!”” when the apple hit his head instead of making the logical leap to gravity, man might have had to wait another hundred years for that basic and important discovery.

    But the hysterical Chicken Little reaction, not the reasoned Newtonian one, is exactly what the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is screaming by moving the Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to Zero Hour.

    The publishers of the Bulletin designed the Doomsday Clock as a reminder of the urgency of the nuclear situation brewing after the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.

    But I would expect more than “”the sky is falling”” from a board that consists of some of the world’s brightest minds; they’re saying the world is closer to destruction, at least in part, for the wrong reasons.

    Since its creation, mankind has been anywhere from a mere two minutes (1953) to 17 minutes (1991) away from self-inflicted Armageddon. It is now five minutes until Doomsday.

    Historically, the scientists who push and pull the hands on the clock have been concerned with disarmament plans, wars, and, most importantly, nuclear proliferation.

    That all changed Jan. 18 when the Bulletin decided to consider a new factor – climate change – when calculating the remainder of humanity’s existence.

    Barring the fact that not since the ancient Mayan calendar has humanity had such a concrete time-frame for the annihilation of Earth, global warming is at best a specious factor to use for Doomsday calculations.

    There’s no doubt that the nuclear threat to the world has increased with Russia taking its position as the world’s leading arms dealer, Iran seeking nuclear “”energy”” to launch into Israel and other unstable regimes and terror cells around the world that want or have access to nuclear weapons.

    But even if the father-of-everything, Al Gore, is right about global warming, the inconvenient truth of the current situation is that most of the alleged global warming emissions do not come from sport utility vehicles, planes and semi-trucks.

    In fact, the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization recently released a comprehensive study titled “”Livestock’s Long Shadow,”” which outlines the destructive power of Chicken Little’s pals, especially cattle.

    According to the study, livestock production accounts for 18 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gases – more than all forms of transportation combined.

    The study also reports that livestock production accounts for 35 percent to 40 percent of the world’s methane emissions. Methane allegedly heats the earth 20 times faster than carbon dioxide, the environmentalist Chicken Little’s favorite scapegoat.

    Cattle and other farm animals also produce a number of other harmful products, including 64 percent of earth’s ammonia, which leads to acid rain.

    Add livestock’s adverse effects on native species, drinking water and coral reefs, and Chicken Little himself would certainly lead a global livestock extermination campaign to save the world from the looming global warming apocalypse.

    While forcing all the world’s inhabitants to turn vegan isn’t practical, the Bulletin’s release never mentions reducing meat consumption or insisting on cleaner, more efficient farming practices as ways to move the clock back a few strokes.

    Although any changes to farming regulations would be implemented by the individual countries, it would be helpful for the Bulletin to provide recommended guidelines for countries attempting to mitigate the impact livestock production has on the environment.

    The U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization survey recommends removing agricultural subsidies, enforcing uniform emission limits, and responsible trade liberalization.

    But instead of presenting solutions that would have a substantial positive impact on the environment, the Bulletin’s board statement has a single-minded focus on limiting the carbon emissions released from automobiles and raising gas taxes.

    Perhaps the brilliant minds assembled at the Bulletin would better serve humanity if they spent more time figuring out how to neutralize or permanently disarm tyrants like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, and less time bickering over a few minutes on a pretend time piece.

    Kara Karlson is a journalism senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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