In a symbolic act of caution about humanity’s future path, scientists have officially moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward one minute. It now stands at 5 minutes to midnight, or doomsday.
The group of scientists cited the insufficient progress the world has made on climate change mitigation and nuclear weapons reduction since 2010, when the clock was moved back to 6 minutes to midnight. The last time the group moved the clock closer to midnight, by 2 minutes, was back in 2007. It was a time when North Korean tensions ran high, Iran was said to have nuclear ambitions (what’s changed?), and the Bush Administration had a renewed interest in nuclear weapons.
In a release the group, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, said “Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed”.
The Bulletin was founded in 1945 by scientists to help develop the first atomic weapons within the Manhattan Project. 2 years later they created the symbolic Doomsday Clock to warn humanity how close we were to self-destruction. The clock began set at the time of 7 minutes to midnight.
To begin with the Doomsday Clock was centered on the very real threat of a nuclear war, and of biological weapons. The scope has widened due to the acknowledged threat of climate change looming very large on the horizon.
However, the nearest the Doomsday Clock has ever come to midnight was 2 minutes, in 1953. This was when the U.S. and Soviet Union were testing nuclear weapons, and the U.S. first tested a hydrogen bomb.
The Cuban missile crisis, thought to be the occasion in which the world came the closest to a nuclear war, occurred too fast to be represented by the Doomsday Clock.
Thankfully, humanity has not yet self-destructed. Let’s hope that form continues! Now, about that rather serious climate change thing we need to be addressed pretty smartly…
Image CC licensed by Bilal Lashari: Minutes to midnight