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Apocalypse Approaching? 'Doomsday Clock' Moved One Minute Closer to Midnight

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: It is Now 5 Minutes to Midnight

With world leaders failing to address global threats, humanity is edging closer to world elimination, or closer to midnight, as marked by the "Doomsday Clock."

In a statement, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) wrote:

It is five minutes to midnight. Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed. For that reason, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving the clock hand one minute closer to midnight, back to its time in 2007.

The Telegraph/UK has video of the group's announcement:

The clock got its start after the birth of the first atomic weapon. McClatchy reports:

In December 1945, scientists who helped develop the first atomic bomb took a step back and stood in awe at the powerful weapon they had created.

"(They) were frightened to death and wanted governance of the weapons," Robert Socolow, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University, said in an interview.

That fear was channeled, and the Doomsday Clock was born.

Every year, leaders of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists — which works to share information on nuclear weapons, global climate change and new technologies — deliberate on whether to shift the clock's minute hand.

According to BAS, "The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences."

The last time the clock moved was two years ago, when the hand was pushed back one minute, from 5 minutes to 6 minutes before midnight.

Among the group's recommendations for areas needing immediate attention:

  • Ratification by the United States and China of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and progress on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty;
  • Adopting and fulfilling climate change agreements to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through tax incentives, harmonized domestic regulation and practice

The group added that change must be immediate. Allison Macfarlane, chair, BAS Science and Security Board, member, Blue Ribbon Commission on American's Nuclear Future, and associate professor, George Mason University, said:

"The global community may be near a point of no return in efforts to prevent catastrophe from changes in Earth's atmosphere. The International Energy Agency projects that, unless societies begin building alternatives to carbon-emitting energy technologies over the next five years, the world is doomed to a warmer climate, harsher weather, droughts, famine, water scarcity, rising sea levels, loss of island nations, and increasing ocean acidification. Since fossil-fuel burning power plants and infrastructure built in 2012-2020 will produce energy—and emissions—for 40 to 50 years, the actions taken in the next few years will set us on a path that will be impossible to redirect. Even if policy leaders decide in the future to reduce reliance on carbon-emitting technologies, it will be too late."

Not missed by the group was the incredible power of recent uprisings through grassroots power. Kennette Benedict, executive director, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, stated:

"The Science and Security Board is heartened by the Arab Spring, the Occupy movements, political protests in Russia, and by the actions of ordinary citizens in Japan as they call for fair treatment and attention to their needs. Whether meeting the challenges of nuclear power, or mitigating the suffering from human-caused global warming, or preventing catastrophic nuclear conflict in a volatile world, the power of people is essential. For this reason, we ask other scientists and experts to join us in engaging ordinary citizens. Together, we can present the most significant questions to policymakers and industry leaders. Most importantly, we can demand answers and action."
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