Doomsday clock holds its position near apocalypse.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has announced the metaphorical “Doomsday Clock” will remain at three minutes to midnight, signaling the world is close to an apocalyptic end of the world, says an article in the Washington Post.
Rising tensions between the United States and Russia and the recent nuclear testing in North Korea, as well as failure to address climate change are the driving factors in the setting of the clock, that is used to measure the vulnerability of the world to a devastating catastrophe.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was founded by University of Chicago scientists who assisted in the development of the first atomic weapons, and the clock was devised two years afterwards, in 1947. The bulletin’s security board, which is made up of physicists and scientist from around the globe, sets the hands on the Doomsday Clock, in consultation with the bulletin’s Board of Sponsors.
In 1953, after the former Soviet Union completed a hydrogen bomb test that was followed by a United States test, the clock was set to two minutes to midnight, the closest it has ever been set. Last year, the group adjusted the hands from five minutes to midnight to three, where it remains today.
With regard to climate change, Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University who is not affiliated with the bulletin, said three minutes to midnight is overly dire, if midnight means the disappearance of humanity, but if it indicates dangerous climate change is inevitable, the setting is a “fair analysis.”
The clock is not without its critics, however. Publisher of Skeptic magazine, Michael Shermer said in an e-mail, the clock is “an exercise in pessimism and PR with little connection to the reality of moral progress made in the past half century.” He points out reductions in the proliferation of nuclear weapons since the 80’s and a lack of war between the governments of Europe as progress.
Lawrence Krauss, chair of the bulletin’s Board of Sponsors said, however, “Unless we change the way we think, humanity remains in serious danger.”