The Doomsday Clock is now at the closest it's been to midnight since 1953
We are now at 150 seconds to midnight, according to the Doomsday Clock – the closest society has been to its annihilation since the 1950s. Have a great weekend.
Since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has been regularly updating its metaphorical clock to symbolise how close the global community is to a catastrophic event. As the minute hand gets closer to midnight, the more concerned the atomic scientists become that we may wind up perishing in a nuclear holocaust.
According to the latest update, the clock has now moved from three to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight, thanks, in no small part, to the unpredictability of the newly appointed US President, Donald J Trump.
The closest the Doomsday Clock has ever come to midnight was in 1953, when the USSR carried out its successful hydrogen bomb tests in the wake of the USA’s own trials. At the time, the clock slipped to two minutes to midnight, meaning today’s Doomsday time is the closest humanity has come since the heights of the Cold War.
“Facts are stubborn things, and they need to be taken into account if the future of humanity is to be preserved,” said Lawrence Krauss, chairman of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, at a recent press conference. “The future of the clock, and our future is in your hands.”
Krauss, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, emphasised that Trump’s “loose talk” about nuclear armament was not the only factor influencing the time change, but it was a significant one.
“Over the course of 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanity’s most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapon and climate change,” the Bulletin said in a statement.
“This already-threatening world situation was the backdrop for a rise in strident nationalism worldwide in 2016, including in a US presidential campaign during which the eventual victor, Donald Trump, made disturbing comments about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons and expressed disbelief in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change,” it continued.
Other destabilising threats that the Bulletin members have identified of late include fake news and computer-programmed and automated military systems. Fake news, already known to have been a contributing factor in the rise of Donald Trump from New York billionaire property developer who had never been elected to any office to leader of the free world, was specifically mentioned for its potential influence in global democracies and its ability to undermined the developed world’s electoral systems.
“The board’s decision to move the clock less than a full minute – something it has never before done – reflects a simple reality: as this statement is issued, Donald Trump has been the US president only a matter of days,” the Bulletin said.