Doomsday Clock Near Midnight

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The Doomsday Clock, a metaphor for global catastrophe, remains set at three minutes to midnight.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board, in conjunction with the Board of Sponsors, which includes 16 Nobel Laureates, announced their annual decision on the clock’s setting Tuesday afternoon, and said it would stay the same as last year. They said they based their decision on the global threat of climate change, as well as continued nuclear tensions between the U.S. and Russia and between Pakistan and India, and the recent claim by North Korea of testing a hydrogen bomb.

Lawrence Krauss, chair of the Board of Sponsors and a renowned physicist and professor at Arizona State University, said that the decision to not move the clock is a sign of the troubles facing humanity. “It is of grave concern that the situation remains largely the same,” he told reporters.

Despite the Paris climate agreement, which was signed by nearly 200 nations that agreed to reduce carbon emissions, Krauss said that “the fight against climate change has barely begun.”

In order to improve the situation so the clock can be moved back, the Bulletin calls on the citizens of the world to implore leaders to reduce nuclear modernization programs, engage North Korea to reduce nuclear risks, follow up on the Paris accord deal and deal with commercial nuclear waste problems now.

Each year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists analyzes global threats including nuclear weapons, climate-changing technologies, emerging biotechnologies and cybertechnology to determine how close the minute hand on the Doomsday Clock should be to midnight. Midnight, in this case, represents the apocalypse.

Last year the Board agreed to move the clock to 11:57 — two minutes closer to midnight than it was before — because of a failure to halt climate change and an increasing nuclear arms arsenal. Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, told reporters that world leaders’ failure to act on these issues endangers every person in the world.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project. The metaphoric Doomsday Clock was created two years later.

The clock has moved 22 times in 69 years. The closest it has come to midnight was in 1953, when it was set at two minutes to midnight after the United States and Russia tested hydrogen bombs.

 

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