Received this cheerful little mailer yesterday.
As you can see, it says “The Environmental Doomsday Clock 2013″ right next to a smiling rabbit named Gring, and his friend, a smiling tree/bush named Woodin.
“Fearful,” says the note next to the doomsday clock, which reads 9:19 — less than three hours to midnight.
Issued by the Tokyo-based Asahi Glass Foundation, this appears to the environment equivalent of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock, which has traditionally estimated how close we are to obliterating ourselves with nuclear weapons.
For some reason, the atomic scientists do not include colorful characters like Gring and Woodin in their foreboding announcements. Woodin, by the way, is said to represent the energy of the world. His worried friend, Gring, has been carrying him on a long journey in search of ways to protect the planet. Gring carries Woodin as a pouch, the flyer notes.
Not sure what the story is with all the other strange little characters — the sweating panda bear, the yellow-striped dragon and the elephant with a crown on its head, among others.
But, Japanese anime aside, this study is a tradition dating back more than two decades. During that period, the time has slowly advanced from 7:49 to well past 9 o’clock. This year’s time of 9:19 actually represents an improvement from 9:23 the year before. (The atomic scientists, by the way, are considerably more pessimistic, claiming we are only 5 minutes ’til midnight.)
The time on the environment clock is determined based on responses to an international survey. Climate change was most frequently identified as the top concern, among many serious topics.
Interestingly, United States residents are far more pessimistic about the environment than the rest of the world. Survey respondents from the U.S. pegged the clock at 10:16, almost a full hour past the worldwide average.
Godspeed to our friends Gring and Woodin. Let’s turn back the clock in 2014.