During the Cold War, the board of directors for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago maintained the Doomsday Clock. Conceived in 1947 as relations between the US and USSR collapsed, it was designed to reflect how close the world was to a potential third world war.  The closer the clock was to midnight, the closer the world was to global disaster. Now, Rajendra Pachuari, head of the United Nation’s group of climate scientists, has used the Doomsday Clock as a metaphor saying that when it comes to climate change, the world has “five minutes before midnight.”


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With the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about to release its long-awaited Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) later this month, Pachuari’s comments are not reassuring. In fact, according to early word it is set to confirm (to an even greater certainty) that “humans are the primary drivers of global warming.”

“It is at least 95 percent likely that human activities — chiefly the burning of fossil fuels — are the main cause of warming since the 1950s,” the report says, upping the percentage from 90 percent in 2007.

“May I submit that humanity has completely ignored, disregarded and been totally indifferent to the debits?” said Pachuari. “Today we have the knowledge to be able to map out the debits and to understand what we have done to the condition of this planet.”

“We cannot isolate ourselves from anything that happens in any part of this planet. It will affect all of us in some way or the other,” Pachauri said.

The report is also expected to address the threat of rising sea-levels rise and refute recent claims of a slowdown in the pace of warming. However the IPCC report isn’t perfect, mainly because it is only seen as a “partial assessment” of the true magnitude of climate change impact.

Still, when the UN’s leading scientist says the planet is ‘5 minutes’ away from a global catastrophe, you would think world leaders would sit up and listen.

via ThinkProgress.org