Doomsday Clock Moves Closer to Midnight

The Doomsday Clock, a figurative timepiece used as a barometer of the fate of the human race, was moved one minute closer to midnight on Jan. 10 to denote the increasing dangers of our time.

The Washington Post is reporting that this is the first time since 2007 that the Clock was moved forward, with the time now set to five minutes before midnight – the hour in which mankind will destroy itself.

Although it might sound like a gimmick, the Clock is actually a deadly serious project started by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) in 1947 to raise awareness about the perils of nuclear weaponry. It now  includes additional threats such as climate change and biological weapons.

A board of esteemed scientists and Nobel laureates oversees the project which has resulted in the resetting of the clock 20 times since its inception. It came closest to doomsday in 1953, when the start of the nuclear arms race pushed its hand to two minutes to midnight. The signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in 1991 by the U.S. and the Soviet Union pushed the second hand to 17 minutes before midnight, the furthest it has ever been. 

According to the BAS, the decision to move the clock ahead this year was due to the failure of world leaders to achieve any significant progress on the reduction of nuclear weapons and in developing a comprehensive response to climate change.

“Faced with clear and present dangers of nuclear proliferation and climate change, and the need to find sustainable and safe sources of energy, world leads are failing to change business as usual,” said Lawrence Krauss, co-chairman of the group’s board of sponsors.

“As we see it,” Krauss said, “the major challenge at the heart of humanity’s survival in the 21st century is how to meet energy needs for economic growth in developing and industrial countries without further damaging the climate … and without risking further spread of nuclear weapons — and in fact setting the stage for global reductions.”

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