The Doomsday Clock is now 100 seconds to midnight.
According to the Science and Security Board Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the world has never been closer to doomsday than now:
Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers — nuclear war and climate change — that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.
In the September/October 2019 issue of Foreign Affairs, Ernest J. Moniz and Sam Nunn warned that the world cannot afford to wait for leadership change. The world must act in the present tense:
For decades, strategic stability between the United States and Russia included a mutual recognition of vital interests, redlines and the means to reduce the risks of accidents or miscalculations leading to conflict, and especially the use of nuclear weapons. Today, however, clashing national interests, insufficient dialogue, eroding arms control structures, advanced missile systems and new cyber-weapons have destabilized the old equilibrium.
How did we arrive at this juncture? The core mission of all universities should be to prevent this shitshow of pre-doomsday scenarios, but instead we are debating the practical application of
every discipline at our university. How do we actually value the varied academic disciplines? If we had learned more Russian and Chinese, would the clock be 100 seconds from doomsday? What if we had actually appreciated the power of music to bridge cultural divides? What if we had actually viewed the study of literature and film as a consistent warning of things to come? What if we had actually given more attention to the lessons of history and political science? Are
these objectives not practical in the context of our ultimate survival?
In truth, we are primarily concerned with professional monetary gain and entertainment value. After all, our actions reveal our true commitment to priorities. Follow the money. Why do universities pay coaches millions and Ivy League PhDs a pittance in comparison? As a society, do we actually value and appreciate education and academics No, we do not, and this is just one of the reasons we find ourselves so close to apocalyptic finality.
We should be concerned with the future of our university, but more importantly, we should be concerned about how our university will contribute to the future survival of our planet. Instead, we continue to sleep in a bliss-filled fog of endless vacuous entertainment while the Doomsday Clock ticks closer to midnight.
Joseph P. Willis, PhD
Adjunct Professor of English
University of Tulsa