Climate Change versus the Dangers of Nuclear War: “Three Minutes to Midnight”

Sixty five Nobel winners were meeting in Mainau, Lake Constance in Southern Germany at their annual conference of Nobel Laureates sponsored by the Lindau Foundation. 

Among the donors to the Lindau Nobel initiative are Lockheed Martin, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Bayer, Merck, Novartis and Microsoft.

Climate Change was on the agenda. The venue was largely a science gathering. There was no declaration or scientific debate on broader issues of war and peace.  (See the program)    

The  “Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change” compares the threat of climate change to that of nuclear war in the heyday of the Cold War era.

According to the Nobel Laureates, the threat of nuclear war belongs to a bygone era. Nuclear war is no longer the main threat, its climate change, “a threat of comparable magnitude”.

The threat to humanity prevails but it has taken on a different form:

Nearly 60 years ago, here on Mainau, a similar gathering of Nobel Laureates in science issued a declaration of the dangers inherent in the newly found technology of nuclear weapons—a technology derived from advances in basic science. So far we have avoided nuclear war though the threat remains. We believe that our world today faces another threat of comparable magnitude.1 (emphasis added)

While Climate Change is the object of concern, the Nobel science laureates are silent on the ongoing US-NATO wars and the war crimes committed by the Western military alliance in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, not to mention the destabilizing impacts of  economic warfare.

Meanwhile the Pentagon is beating the drums of war. The recent threats of the Obama administration to use nuclear weapons on a first strike pre-emptive basis not only against Russia but also against several non-nuclear states in the Middle East are casually ignored by the Science Nobel Laureates.

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.

While a World War III scenario implying the preemptive use of nuclear weapons has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for more than ten years, military planners are now involved in the formulation of concrete attack plans directed against Russia including the deployment of missile systems and NATO ground forces inside Ukraine.

The Doomsday Clock

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS)  which has historically warned against the dangers of nuclear war, has changed its narrative. According to the BAS, nuclear war is less of a threat today compared to the Cold War era:

Today, the mind-numbing possibility of nuclear annihilation as a result of a deliberate attack on the other by the United States or Russia seems a thing of the past, ….  (emphasis added)

The fact of the matter is that none of the safeguard of the Cold War era prevail. This assessment totally disregards the US doctrine of preemptive nuclear war involving first strike nuclear attacks as an instrument of peace-making, as formulated in the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review.

Climate change and nuclear war are now presented side by side in the BAS’ doomsday clock. Nuclear war is no longer the main threat.


2015: “Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.” Despite some modestly positive developments in the climate change arena, current efforts are entirely insufficient to prevent a catastrophic warming of Earth. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia have embarked on massive programs to modernize their nuclear triads—thereby undermining existing nuclear weapons treaties. “The clock ticks now at just three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty—ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.”

Apples and Oranges

Climate change vs. Nuclear War, “A threat of comparable magnitude”, according to the Nobel Science Laureates.

Scientific assessment of climate change focuses on “the impact of human activity” on the Earth’s climate and ecology. We are dealing with a complex long-term process, involving scientific assessment and measurement.

By casually juxtaposing climate change and nuclear war, the BAS scientists and Nobel Science Laureates are essentially “comparing apples and oranges”. There is a fundamental misunderstanding regarding the nature of  causality, which serves to distract public opinion from the imminent dangers of global warfare.

While the decision to unleash a nuclear attack against a known enemy can be implemented in a matter of minutes, –i.e. a decision of the US president and Commander in Chief, – the causes, the underlying time trends as well as policies pertaining to climate change are of an entirely different nature. 

In the post-Cold War era,  nuclear war has become a multibillion dollar undertaking, which fills the pockets of US defense contractors. What is at stake is the outright “privatization of nuclear war”.   War and nuclear war are the result of concrete military and political decisions, in response to powerful economic interests.

Global Warming on the other hand is not unleashed by “pushing a button” at the political level. (With the exception of geoengineering used as a weapon of warfare).

The campaign against war and nuclear war is virtually dead since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

What is at stake for the peace movement is to ultimately undermine a decision-making process at the highest levels of  the US government apparatus including the US State Department, the Pentagon and the intelligence apparatus. Is there a sense of Urgency? Yes there is.

Today, US-NATO are leading simultaneous wars of aggression in several regions of the World coupled with a process of political destabilization and restructuring. Under the brunt of powerful financial institutions, national economies are undermined and destroyed, large sectors of the World population are impoverished.

These actions within the economic sphere are based on a deliberate process of financial manipulation. The Pentagon, NATO, the IMF and Wall Street work in tandem. We are dealing with a coordinated decision-making process both within the economic, geopolitical and military spheres. It’s called war and “financial warfare”.

To distract public opinion from the very real dangers of a World War III scenario, the mainstream media has its eyes riveted solely on the imminent dangers of climate change.

While climate change is an important global issue in its own right, at this juncture in our history, it is essential that people comprehend the logic of US led hegemonic wars, under the disguise of counterterrorism operations. There is no such thing as a humanitarian war.  Moreover, these wars are economic wars. They are wars of economic conquest.

The propaganda campaign consists in presenting global warming as the sole danger to humanity with a view to minimizing the public’s understanding of the dangers of war and nuclear war, which are inevitably coupled with a global process of neoliberal economic restructuring and impoverishment.

At his West Point speech on May 28 2014, President Obama said, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.” Obama stated his bottom line is that “America must always lead on the world stage,” and “the backbone of that leadership always will be the military.” American exceptionalism based on might, not diplomacy, on hard power, not soft, is precisely the hubris and arrogance that could lead to the termination of human life. Washington’s determination to prevent the rise of Russia and China, as set out in the Brzezinski and Wolfowitz doctrines, is a recipe for nuclear war.

The need is dire for the president of the US, Russia, or China to state in a highly public forum that the existence of nuclear weapons creates the possibility of their use and that their use in war would likely mean human extinction. As nuclear war has no winners, the weapons should be banned and destroyed before they destroy all of us. (Steven Starr, Global Research, June 2014, emphasis added)

During the Cold War era, the doctrine of “mutually assured destruction” (MAD) prevailed. The US and the Soviet Union understood that the use of nuclear weapons could potentially lead to Worldwide nuclear radiation and a nuclear holocaust.

In the wake of the Cold War, this understanding on the dangers of nuclear war (MAD) no longer prevails. Moreover, the Pentagon has recently made public its policy of a nuclear first strike against the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s alleged aggression against Ukraine.

Should we be concerned? Is Nuclear War more dangerous than Global Warming?

If these US nuclear strikes were to be implemented, humanity would be precipitated into a Third World War, which could potentially be the “final war” on planet earth.

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research



1. The Mainau Declaration on the Dangers of Climate Change was signed by 36 of the 65 Nobel laureates in attendance. 

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