The Doomsday Clock, a clock that marks the time between now and the end of the world, has moved forward for the first time in two years. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists first created the clock in 1947, and it shows how close we are to destroying ourselves with technology of our own making. The technologies scientists are most concerned about at this time are nuclear weapons, and things that contribute to climate change.
With today’s move, the Doomsday Clock now sits at 11:57 p.m., the latest it’s been since 1984, when the Cold War was considered the world’s biggest threat.
Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge 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 leadership endanger every person on earth.
Things like climate change are heavily politicized in many countries, not the least of which is the U.S. The Senate just passed a bill recognizing that climate change is happening. That bill, however, refuses to acknowledge that man plays a role, and a separate bill doing so failed. Conservatives have manufactured a controversy among scientists over whether man-made climate change is a thing, stalling any real progress that we could make here.
The news release that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists put out when they moved the Doomsday Clock said that there have been modest improvements in addressing climate change, but they’re vastly insufficient to actually help reduce the threat of climate change. In the U.S., we can thank the Koch brothers and the rest of the fossil fuel industry, along with idiots like Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), for that.
We here in the U.S. are also ramping up our nuclear capabilities again, by doing exactly what the scientists in charge of the Doomsday Clock are upset about. We’re modernizing our nuclear warheads so they’re more versatile, so we can launch them from more locations, and so they can do more damage. Because bombing someone back to the Stone Age is totally the way to handle problems.
But that attitude isn’t limited to just us. According to The New York Times, Pakistan’s been expanding their arsenal, there is always the possibility that an increasingly aggressive Russia is working on theirs again, and China is pushing its territorial claims, which could include a nuclear arsenal. We have North Korea to contend with as well, and possibly Iran, although we’ve been trying to negotiate Iran out of building a nuclear arsenal. Obama campaigned on nuclear disarmament, but given the world’s growing instability, that’s looking more like a pipe dream and less like a reality. That’s part of what the move on the Doomsday Clock reflects.
The last time the Doomsday Clock moved was in 2012, when it was pushed forward one minute to 11:55 p.m. The farthest we’ve been from midnight was in 1991, when the time on the clock read 11:43 p.m. The closest we’ve been was back in 1984, when the clock read 11:58 p.m. following heavy arms buildup due to the Cold War.
The Doomsday Clock is an internationally recognized symbol of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe, and the members of the boards responsible for the clock include 17 Nobel Laureates, according to their news release. So these aren’t random people sitting around with nothing better to do than scare everyone.
They do believe there’s still time to turn things around. Otherwise they would have thrown up their hands in defeat, turned the Doomsday Clock to midnight, and said, “Time to stick your head between your knees and kiss you’re a** goodbye, world, ’cause we’re toast.” Whether we (the whole world) actually do anything, though, remains to be seen.
Watch a report about the Doomsday clock change here, via Daily Mail:
Image via InternetWeekly.org