Utsav Jambusaria
on 09 September, 2013

Minutes to Midnight

Why EVS?


Most of us would have been left scratching our heads there. Because EVS is back. 5th semester, for us of the 2009 revised syllabus at least.

It's a classic case of deja vu. You have probably studied the subject for half your academic carrer, and you wouldn't even rule out having to face it again. Right from school, this has got to be THE most lightly taken subject. Tukkon ke bal par, clearing this subject was/is a cakewalk. My personal motto - Convince the examiner that we're all dying, and s/he won't begrudge you full marks. Works like a charm, that.

At the back of our heads, we all know why so much emphasis has been put on this one subject. We all understand. But that's about it. We understand, and then resign overselves to the sorry fate that's supposedly in store for us. And clearly, that is not enough. It deserves a lot more attention than we younglings care to give it.

While we have seen plenty of facts and figures that point to an emminent demise of the environmental world as we know it, here is another interesting one not many of us would know about - The Doomsday Clock. Unless you're a Linkin Park fan. Shame on you if you don't have an inkling then.

Doomsday Clock Graph

To put it simply, it is a symbolic clock (not an actual one with a vibrating quartz crystal!) maintained by the board of directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since the Clock's inception in 1947. It is always expressed as being some minutes to midnight. The closer it is, greater is the risk of a global disaster.

Initially set at 7 minutes to midnight during the Cold War, the Clock reached its 'safest' point in 1991 at 11:43pm, ie. 17 minutes to midnight. Tragically enough, I was born two years later in 1993 and the Clock has been freefalling towards midnight ever since. Talk about being dharti ka bhoj.

It was originally meant to represent the threat of only thermonuclear war, which up until a few years ago was widely considered as the greatest threat ever faced by humankind after witnessing the nuclear holocaust of Little Boy and Fat Man. But starting 2007, the Clock has now also started responding to environmental issues and most specifically climate change. What does this tell us? Simply, that among those dangers listed in your flimsy EVS textbook (assuming you've bought one) lies at least one which is potentially as harmful as nuclear annihilation. On a global scale.

Let us spend a moment to grasp the magnitude of what I just said. A simple, subtle increase in overall global temperatures by a couple of degrees? Sounds harmless. A 15 kiloton blast that put an end to the war real fast? Shit just got serious. And to say that we are as likely to be driven to extinction by the former as the latter is a tall statement indeed.

But true it is. These threats...are more for us humans than Earth itself. We must not forget that the Earth is over 4.5 billion years old, while modern humans are thought to be anywhere between 50,000 to 200,000 ONLY. In it's time, the Earth has gone through various changes. Be it the splitting of Pangaea, the domination and extinction of dinosaurs, to the 5 major Ice Ages. It has harboured life for 3.6 billion years now, despite all these changes. Who are we to think that we can fatally wound it? We humans could be just another phase for it, and even though we might not be everlasting, the Earth will certainly endure. And if not us, new life forms shall take it forward.

At 5 minutes to midnight as it currenty stands, we're not staring at paradise exactly. Nor are we in the depths of hell though. Just somewhere in between. Only when we know the problem can we come up with the solution. And THAT, is why EVS. Again. It's the only thing that really matters.

PS: If all this wasn't inspiring enough for you, I'm sure this will be- Screw everything, this subject is free marks. Be happy, and don't lose out.

Image Credits: www.wikipedia.org

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Utsav Jambusaria

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