The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has decided that the world has moved closer to apocalypse and have moved the fingers of the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to midnight – the witching hour when there’s a very high chance of something happening in the world that could alter our reality forever.
It is two and a half minutes to midnight
Here is the statement from the executive director of the Science and Security Board Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Doomsday Clock, a graphic that appeared on the first cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists as it transitioned from a six-page, black-and- white newsletter to a full- edged magazine.
For its first cover, the editors sought an image that represented a seriousness of purpose and an urgent call for action. The Clock, and the countdown to midnight that it implied, t the bill perfectly. The Doomsday Clock, as it came to be called, has served as a globally recognized arbiter of the planet’s health and safety ever since.
Each year, the setting of the Doomsday Clock galvanizes a global debate about whether the planet is safer or more dangerous today than it was last year, and at key moments in recent history. Our founders would not be surprised to learn that the threats to the planet that the Science and Security Board now considers have expanded since 1947.
In fact, the Bulletin’s first editor, Eugene Rabinowitch, noted that one of the purposes of the Bulletin was to respond and o er solutions to the “Pandora’s box of modern science,” recognizing the speed at which technological advancement was occurring, and the demanding questions it would present.
In 1947 there was one technology with the potential to destroy the planet, and that was nuclear power. Today, rising temperatures, resulting from the industrial-scale burning of fossil fuels, will change life on Earth as we know it, potentially destroying or displacing it from significant portions of the world, unless action is taken today, and in the immediate future.
Future technological innovation in biology, artificial intelligence, and the cyber realm may pose similar global challenges. The knotty problems that innovations in these fields may present are not yet fully realized, but the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board tends to them with a watchful eye.
This year’s Clock deliberations felt more urgent than usual. On the big topics that concern the board, world leaders made too little progress in the face of continuing turbulence. In addition to the existential threats posed by nuclear weapons and climate change, new global realities emerged, as trusted sources of information came under attack, fake news was on the rise, and words were used in cavalier and often reckless ways.
As if to prove that words matter and fake news
is dangerous, Pakistan’s foreign minister issued
a blustery statement, a tweet actually, flexing Pakistan’s nuclear muscle—in response to a fabricated “news” story about Israel.
Today’s complex global environment is in need of deliberate and considered policy responses. It is ever more important that senior leaders across the globe calm rather than stoke tensions that could lead to war, either by accident or miscalculation.
I once again commend the board for approaching its task with the seriousness it deserves. Bulletin Editor-in-Chief John Mecklin did a remarkable job pulling together this document and reflecting the in-depth views and opinions of the board.
Considerable thanks goes to our supporters including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, MacArthur Foundation, Ploughshares Fund, David Weinberg and Jerry Newton, as well as valued supporters across the year.
I hope the debate engendered by the 2017 setting of the Clock raises the level of conversation, promotes calls to action, and helps citizens around the world hold their leaders responsible for delivering a safer and healthier planet.
Rachel Bronson, PhD
Executive Director and Publisher 26 January, 2017
This is the closest the clock has been to midnight since 1953 when both the United States and Russia tested hydrogen bombs. We pulled back then, let’s hope we can do the same again.
For many this will be a wake up call, a realisation that the world is not as safe as it was. It’s never to late to start preparing for what seems to be a very uncertain future.
You can read the full Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists here..there are some quite surprising bits in there.
Here are a few articles to give those new to prepping a few ideas: