The Doomsday Clock is a symbol which represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. Maintained since 1947 by the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The Clock is a metaphor for threats to humanity from unchecked scientific and technical advances. The Clock represents the hypothetical global catastrophe as "midnight" and the Bulletin's opinion on how close the world is to a global catastrophe as a number of "minutes" to midnight. The factors influencing the Clock are nuclear risk and climate change. The Bulletin's Science and Security Board also monitors new developments in the life sciences and technology that could inflict irrevocable harm to humanity.
- The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists believes that advances in science and technology should make life on earth better, not worse. We equip the public, policy makers, and scientists with the information needed to demand, recognize, and support public policies that reduce manmade existential threats such as nuclear war, climate change, and disruptive technologies. Our award-winning journal, iconic Doomsday Clock, open-access website, and timely events promote evidence-based policy debates essential to healthy democracies and a safe and livable planet.
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- In January 2018, the experts at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock to two minutes before midnight, where it had stood during the darkest days of the Cold War, from 1953 to 1960.
- The latest move of the hands was precipitated by the recklessness in Trump’s nuclear thinking and the deepening crisis over Korea. Trump wondered aloud about the point of having nuclear weapons if he couldn’t use them. His answer was to make them more usable, which he did with his new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the first since Obama’s 2010 NPR, which had reduced the role of nuclear weapons in the US defense posture. The 2018 NPR significantly elevated their role, permitting use in response to vaguely defined “extreme circumstances,” such as cyberattacks or attacks on the infrastructure of both the United States and its “allies and partners.” The review doubled down on Obama’s unconscionable 30-year trillion-dollar modernization of all parts of the nuclear arsenal. The actual cost looks to be closer to $1.7 trillion and climbing. To make matters worse, all eight other nuclear powers are undertaking their own modernizations, though on a far more modest scale. Russia, it should be noted, actually cut its defense spending this past year.
- How late is it now? On Thursday, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will announce the time on its Doomsday Clock. Last year, the bulletin moved the hands forwards 30 seconds, to reach two minutes to midnight: the closest to catastrophe in six and a half decades. Since then, the immediate peril encapsulated in Donald Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” to North Korea has receded. But Mr Trump should take no credit for pressing pause on a crisis largely of his own making. His actions have exacerbated existing problems...
As a candidate, Mr Trump is said to have asked why the US could not use nuclear weapons. So it should be no surprise he has proved reckless in office. Last week, his administration announced it would begin its pull-out from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty next month, and Mr Trump called for billions of dollars of new spending on missile defences. Arms control experts have warned that the missile defence review, and Mr Trump’s rhetoric in particular, risk provoking an arms race, encouraging Russia and China, both of which are potential and actual destabilisers already, to increase their own capabilities.
- Atomic scientists say the world is closer to complete destruction than at any time since the Cold War. The reasons include a renewed nuclear arms race, man-made climate change and state-supported disinformation campaigns. The scientists released the 2019 Doomsday Clock statement this week. They set the clock at two minutes to midnight – the same time as in 2018. They call the current international situation a “new abnormal.”
- The scientists argued that threats to humanity – nuclear and climate change – worsened with disinformation from political leaders around the world. They said nationalist leaders and their supporters lied in many ways, but especially on social media. The leaders did not care they were lying, said the scientists, but insisted “that their lies were truth, and the truth ‘fake news.’”
- To turn back the clock, the group called for several actions to make the world safer. Those include extending nuclear arms talks between the U.S. and Russia, adopting measures to prevent military events along the borders of NATO, demanding action to deal with climate change and discouraging the use of disinformation to decrease public trust.