Science & Technology

‘Doomsday Clock’ moves 2 minutes to the world’s apocalypse

“Doomsday” is a phrase people may have heard in movies, music,  television shows and books. In fact, the threat of nuclear war was so strong, that a group of scientists actually created the Doomsday Clock after the Cold War. It is currently two minutes away from midnight, a time at which the planet suffers a world-ending catastrophe. This is a 30-second increase from last year, since it is now two minutes while it was two and a half minutes in 2017.

The current time is the closest the planet has been to midnight since the United States tested its first thermonuclear device and the Soviet Union conducted its first hydrogen bomb test.

The Doomsday Clock is not an actual clock that is ticking away to mankind’s end. According to The Tampa Bay Times, the Doomsday Clock is a “metaphorical measure of humankind’s proximity to global catastrophe.”

It was first created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, who are “veterans of the Manhattan Project concerned about the consequences of their nuclear research.”

This board of scientists and nuclear experts frequently meets to decide what time it is on the Doomsday Clock.

Since the clock’s creation by nuclear physicist Alexander Langsdorf Jr., and his wife, artist Martyl Langsdorf, the bulletin’s board determines “when the clock’s minute hand will move, usually to draw attention to worldwide crises that, the board believes, threaten the survival of the human species.”

The main targets that the organization focuses on are availability of nuclear weapons and a willingness among the world’s great powers to use them.

It is important to note that the goal of the clock is to highlight major world crises that people may overlook.

“This is the closest the clock has ever been to Doomsday, and as close as it was in 1953, at the height of the Cold War,” Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said on Thursday, Jan. 25. “To call the world’s nuclear situation dire is to understate the danger and its immediacy.”

People may wonder what contributes to this change. Many contributing factors have caused the clock to move closer to midnight.

Since Donald Trump became president, the Doomsday Clock moved to two and a half minutes to midnight because of his unsettling actions and warnings as the United States’ new commander in chief.

The Oakland Press reported that the clock moved again a year later “due to the failure of President Donald Trump and other world leaders to deal with looming threats of nuclear war and climate change.”

Bronson highlights how nuclear threat from North Korea, the nuclear activity incorporated into Russia’s military plans and the strong commitment to nuclear weapons in Pakistan, India and China are reasons as to why the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decided to further advance the Doomsday Clock.

The reasons do not end there. Climate change has also been added as a  “contributing effect.”

The Trump administration is further causing the clock’s advancement.

Since the moment Trump took office, the Board has argued that the Trump administration is contributing to the change of the clock.

Bronson explains that the exchange of provocative rhetoric between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, along North Korea’s nuclear development, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Trump had an inadequate response to events precipitated by climate change, such as the intense hurricanes in the Caribbean or the extreme heat in Australia, South America, Asia, Europe and

The Oakland Press reported,  “Last week, data from 2017 demonstrated a continued trend of exceptional global warmth.”

Besides the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the deteriorating U.S. and Russia relations feature more conflicts than cooperation. The United States and Russia remain at odds, undermining the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, upgrading their nuclear arsenals and eschewing arms control negotiations, all very similar to the infamous Cold War.

“We considered at length the lack of predictability in how the United States is thinking about the future and future use of its own nuclear weapons,” Bronson said. “An unpredictability that is embodied in statements and tweets by the president of the United States.”

As a result, people can watch a clock that states humanity has two minutes left utill “Doomsday.”

If the board discovers that global leaders have reevaluated their policies or made positive progress, then the clock can be moved backward, as seen when it was moved seven minutes backward at the end of the Cold War.

February 13, 2018

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Matthew Sanchez

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