Last year the Doomsday clock was set at 3 minutes to midnight, the closest it has been to global “midnight” since the iciest days of the Cold War. This ominous pronouncement reflected own my fears that we were now in greater danger of nuclear catastrophe than we were during the Cold War, with the growing threat of nuclear terrorism, the continued risk of accidents and miscalculation, and the possibility of regional nuclear war and continued nuclear proliferation around the world.
Today the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced that we have moved closer to global catastrophe, for the first time setting the clock 30 seconds ahead to 2 and a half minutes to midnight, approaching a time not seen since the United States and Soviet Russia first developed the h-bomb.
We must heed this dire warning as a call to action. There are concrete steps that we can take to reduce the risk of nuclear annihilation, such as outlined by the scientists at the Bulletin, but we must start today.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announce new time for 'Doomsday Clock'
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced a new time for the famous Doomsday Clock today, moving the minute hand forward 30 seconds closer to global midnight for the first time. At 2 and a half minutes to midnight, this is the closest the scientists have ranked our danger of causing global catastrophe since 1953 when both the U.S. and the USSR began testing of the first hydrogen bombs.
The Doomsday countdown was first established by nuclear scientists in 1947 in order to symbolize to the public the urgency of the nuclear threat facing humanity. Each year the Bulletin announces their assessment of the current state of the global threat, with midnight representing the end of civilization.
The modern Doomsday Clock now takes into account all existential dangers that could inflict irrevocable harm, whether by intention, miscalculation, or by accident, to our way of life and to the planet; the foremost being the threat of nuclear weapons, but also including the emerging danger of climate change, and advances in biotechnologies and cybertechnology.
The decision to move the minute hand closer to midnight was predicated on multiple reasons according to the scientists, including increased tension between the United States and Russia, who possess 90% of the world's stock of over 15,000 nuclear weapons.
Their concerns also included continued nuclear proliferation and testing in North Korea, as well as "dangerous and loose rhetoric" from President Trump on climate change and nuclear arms buildup, in addition to a growing willingness to disregard scientific language and expertise.
The scientists also warned of "accidental, unauthorized, or inadvertent nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia", saying that the two countries had 800 warheads on high alert, ready to launch.
The Bulletin affirmed that "words matter, " and that ignoring the issues brought up by the scientific community does not make their existential threat disappear.
"Facts are stubborn things, and they must be taken into account."