The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have announced that the Doomsday Clock will remain at 3 minutes to midnight.
At a live international news conference held at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that the Doomsday Clock — which was first initiated in 1947 to convey the near-apocalyptic nuclear threat to the world — would hold steady at 3 minutes to midnight. There have been some changes in the world over the past year, most notably an Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate accord, however, members of the Bulletin considered these to “constitute only small bright spots in a darker world situation full of potential for catastrophe.”
“Three minutes (to midnight) is too close,” said the official statement accompanying the Doomsday Clock decision. “Far too close.”
In line with the decision to leave the Doomsday Clock at 3 minutes to midnight, the Bulletin members also identified the following as the most urgently needed steps to be taken to step away from potential armageddon:
- Dramatically reduce proposed spending on nuclear weapons modernization programs.
- Re-energize the disarmament process, with a focus on results.
- Engage North Korea to reduce nuclear risks.
- Follow up on the Paris accord with actions that sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fulfill the Paris promise of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
- Deal now with the commercial nuclear waste problem.
- Create institutions specifically assigned to explore and address potentially catastrophic misuses of new technologies.
“Developments have been mixed since we moved the clock forward a year ago,” said Lawrence Krauss, chair of the Bulletin Board of Sponsors. “In spite of some positive news, the major challenges the Bulletin laid out for governments then have not been addressed, even as the overall global challenges we need to face become more urgent. The clock reflects our estimate that the world is as close to the brink as it was in 1983 when US-Russian tensions were at their iciest in decades.”
The Doomsday Clock moved to 3 minutes to midnight on January 22, 2015, which was the closest to midnight the hands had been moved since the height of the Cold War in 1983. The decision to keep the minute hand in place represents the opinion of leading experts.
We, the members of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, want to be clear about our decision not to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock in 2016: That decision is not good news, but an expression of dismay that world leaders continue to fail to focus their efforts and the world’s attention on reducing the extreme danger posed by nuclear weapons and climate change. When we call these dangers existential, that is exactly what we mean: They threaten the very existence of civilization and therefore should be the first order of business for leaders who care about their constituents and their countries.
“Last year, the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board moved the Doomsday Clock forward to three minutes to midnight,” said Rachel Bronson, executive director and publisher, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, “noting: ‘The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.’ That probability has not been reduced. The Clock ticks. Global danger looms. Wise leaders should act — immediately.”
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