Since 1947 The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has been keeping a “Doomsday Clock” and adjusting it yearly to reflect the risk from major dangers humankind is facing (nuclear threat, climate change, and other international security factors). Midnight on the clock represents global catastrophe, and in 2020 the clock is closer to midnight than ever in its history.
From the press release: Rachel Bronson, president and CEO, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said: “It is 100 seconds to midnight. We are now expressing how close the world is to catastrophe in seconds – not hours, or even minutes. It is the closest to Doomsday we have ever been in the history of the Doomsday Clock. We now face a true emergency – an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin for error or further delay.”
The Doomsday Clock statement highlights three worsening factors: nuclear weapons, climate change, and cyber-based disinformation. The statement also identifies possible action steps to turn back the hands of the Clock:
- US and Russian leaders can return to the negotiating table
- The countries of the world should publicly rededicate themselves to the temperature goal of the Paris climate agreement
- The United States and other signatories of the Iran nuclear deal can work together to restrain nuclear proliferation in the Middle East
- The international community should discourage and penalize the misuse of science
This is the third time the Clock has been moved closer to midnight during the presidency of Donald Trump. In both 2017 and 2018 it was moved 30 seconds closer to midnight. In 2019 it was not adjusted.
The Clock was originally set at seven minutes to midnight in 1947. Its furthest position from midnight was in 1991 with the end of the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty providing for deep cuts to the two countries’ strategic nuclear weapons arsenals. The Bulletin set the clock at 17 minutes to midnight.
The announcement intro: https://youtu.be/x0NsGr7n3As