Doomsday Clock
The doomsday clock hovers near midnight. Image: Bilal Lashari/Flickr/CC BY

The Doomsday Clock, a symbolic reminder of what some believe is our proximity to global annihilation, was moved one minute closer to midnight Tuesday. The clock and was returned to 11:55 p.m., losing momentum gained in 2010, out of concern over nuclear proliferation and climate change.

Founded by scientist who developed bomb

The symbolic clock was established in 1947 by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. The group was founded by the University of Chicago scientists who worked to develop the first atomic bomb. Since that time, the BAS has become the watchdogs of mankind’s potential rush into self-generated oblivion.

Lost ground gained in 2010

In 2010, due to nuclear agreements between the U.S. and Russia and climate change talks in Copenhagen, the clock was moved from 11:55 p.m. to 11:54. However, the decision was made Tuesday to return the clock to five minutes before midnight.

The BAS said in a statement:

“Despite the promise of a new spirit of international cooperation, and reductions in tensions between the United States and Russia, the Science and Security Board believes that the path toward a world free of nuclear weapons is not at all clear, and leadership is failing.”

Japanese nuclear disaster cited

The BAS also pointed to the nuclear disaster in Japan as further evidence that, as a species, we may be dabbling irresponsibly into elemental powers that we are ill-equipped to control.

“How can complex systems like nuclear power stations be made less susceptible to accidents and errors in judgment?” the BAS statement asked.

Earliest and latest

The earliest time the clock has seen was in 1991, when it was set at 17 minutes before midnight. In that post-cold war year, the two super powers made a pact to cut nuclear arsenals.

Since that time, it has made a steady march toward midnight over concerns of terrorism and global warming.

The closest the clock ever came to 12 o’clock was in 1984 during a tense diplomatic standoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. At that time, it was set to 11:57 p.m.

Sources

Huffington Post
MSNBC
CNN

 

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