I think they’re trying to get our attention

30 January 2007

With the caveat that issuing a press release in order to say that you’re going to issue a press release is getting a little old, a couple of weeks after the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that the world is two minutes closer to Doomsday, the Eiffel Tower will go dark for several minutes on Thursday night, anticipating the release by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of their 4th Assessment Report from a meeting in Paris on Friday. I can’t now find the article where I read that the report is expected to give at least a 90% probability that human activity is causing climate change, but even without delving into statistical analysis, this is the same body whose 3rd Assessment Report concluded way back in 2001 that sea level rise was already happening, so you can figure that they would be pretty unequivocal.

But like all good secular-progressives, I already believe that climate change (climate change:troop surge::global warming:escalation?) is happening, and view the hearings of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as sort of, well, pro forma. The big issue, for me, is the one of presentation. The Doomsday Clock may be misinterpreted, but it is rarely mistaken. The made-for-TV dimming of the Eiffel Tower is an interesting entrant into the category of science attention-getters, though. Is it symbolic enough? Is it the right symbol? Will there be copycats, and if so, what magnitude of an event is worthy of such a sign?


2 Responses to “I think they’re trying to get our attention”

  1. Sherryll Mleynek Says:

    Erik, you write: “The Doomsday Clock may be misinterpreted, but it is rarely mistaken.” On what do you base such an assertion? It seems to me–but perhaps I am missing something–that this is as improbable a claim as any religious claim, i.e., let us assume there is a creation, so there must be a creator. In this case, I think it is something like this: the Doomsday Clock exists; the world is in chaos; thus, the Doomsday clock is accurate.


  2. erikrau Says:

    Sorry, I didn’t mean ‘mistaken,’ as in infallible, but rather as in ‘I don’t know what they’re trying to say with that big clock thing,’ or ‘mistaken for something else.’ I hope that even The Atomic Scientists wouldn’t assign the clock intelligence as such. I get a little too enthusiastic about paring down sometimes, and I wasn’t very clear.

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