Scientists advance the Doomsday Clock, 30 seconds closer to the apocalypse

Scientists advance the Doomsday Clock, 30 seconds closer to the apocalypse

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists brought the symbolic Doomsday Clock forward a little closer to the end of humanity on Thursday, moving it forward 30 seconds. It is now set at two minutes to "midnight."

By moving the clock 30 seconds closer to the time of the apocalypse, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists cited "the failure of President Trump and other world leaders to deal with imminent threats of nuclear war and climate change."

The organization now believes that "the world is not only more dangerous now than it was a year ago, it is as threatening as it has been since World War II," Newsletter officials Lawrence M. Krauss and Robert Rosner wrote in an op-ed. . Thursday by The Washington Post. "In fact, the Doomsday Clock is as close to midnight today as it was in 1953, when Cold War fears perhaps reached their highest levels."

Krauss, a theoretical physicist, and Rosner, an astrophysicist, added: “To call the world to the nuclear situation is to minimize the danger and its immediacy. North Korea's nuclear weapons program appeared to advance markedly in 2017, increasing the risks to itself. other countries in the region and the United States. "

The clock, a metaphorical measure of humanity's proximity to global catastrophe, also advanced 30 seconds last year, to 2 1/2 minutes to “midnight,” the closest apocalyptic time since 1953, after the United States They will test their first thermonuclear device, followed months later by the Soviet Union's hydrogen bomb test.

Before Thursday's announcement, experts said there was only one direction in which the clock could turn, given recent geopolitical events, including North Korea's ICBM test and the war of words between Trump and my nuclear chief. . North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Doomsday Clock moves 30 seconds closer to midnight, naming Trump high among global threats

"I think it would be very difficult for the clock to tick," Alex Wellerstein, who specializes in the history of nuclear weapons at the Stevens Institute of Technology, said in an email prior to the announcement. “We have members of Congress, White House advisers, and even the president, which implies that they believe that war with a nuclear state is not only likely, but potentially desirable. That is unusual and disturbing.

"The question I have is: how much can they advance?"

Another 30 seconds, to be exact.

The clock is symbolic, sitting at the intersection of art and science, and has rocked between two and 17 minutes to doom since its inception in 1947.

A board of nuclear scientists and experts meets regularly to determine what time it is on the Doomsday Clock. This group, called the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, was founded by veterans of the Manhattan Project concerned about the consequences of their nuclear research. One of them, nuclear physicist Alexander Langsdorf, was married to artist Martyl Langsdorf, who created the clock and set it at ten minutes to seven, or 11:53, for the cover of the group's magazine. Her husband moved time four minutes earlier in 1949.

Since then, the bulletin board has determined when the minute hand on the clock will move, typically to draw attention to global crises that the board says threaten the survival of the human species. The group's reasoning focuses almost exclusively on the availability of nuclear weapons and the willingness of the great world powers to use them.

"Every time the clock is set, we answer two basic questions," said Rachel Bronson, president of the Newsletter, in an interview last fall. “Is the world safer or is it at higher risk than it was a year ago? And is it safer or more at risk than ever in the history of the watch? "

The group's reasoning has traditionally focused on the availability of nuclear weapons and the willingness of the world's great powers to use them. But in recent years, scientists have also considered the threat posed by climate change, which they said in 2007 is "almost as dire" as the dangers of nuclear weapons.

By ticking the famous clock last year, the group noted that "the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to deal effectively with humanity's most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change."

But the organization also cited Trump's election: "who promised to impede progress on both fronts," Krauss and retired Navy Rear Admiral David Titley wrote in an opinion piece last year. “Never before has the Bulletin decided to advance the clock largely due to the statements of a single person. But when that person is the new president of the United States, his words are important. "

Daryl Kimball, CEO of the nonprofit Arms Control Association, said a symbolic move toward "midnight" makes sense, and that nuclear risks alone justify it.

“Throughout the year, there have been heightened tensions with North Korea, nuclear threats relayed by President Trump and Kim Jong Un, the tensions with Russia are higher, perhaps as difficult as they have been since the end of the War. Cold, ”he said Wednesday. In a matter of days, Kimball noted, the Trump administration is ready to announce a nuclear strategy calling for expanding the role of US nuclear weapons. "Thus, unfortunately, the risk of a nuclear conflict by accident or by design it is increasing, ”he added.

Lindsey Bever, Sarah Kaplan and Abby Ohlheiser
Original article Washington Post

Video: Doomsday Clock moved to two minutes to midnight (July 2021).