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The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced on Thursday that the Doomsday Clock remains at two minutes to midnight. (Graphic: Bulletin of Atomic Scientists/Twitter)

Welcome to 'The New Abnormal': Apocalypse Still Looms as Doomsday Clock Stays at 2 Minutes to Midnight

"Humanity faces two dire and simultaneous existential threats: nuclear weapons and climate change."

Jessica Corbett

Thanks to world leaders' failures to adequately address the threats posed by nuclear weapons and the climate crisis—in spite of mounting public pressure for bold action on both fronts—the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced Thursday that the Doomsday Clock remains at two minutes to midnight, "the closest it has ever been to apocalypse."

Founded in 1945 by developers of the atomic bomb, the Bulletin's mission is to "equip the public, policymakers, and scientists with the information needed to demand, recognize, and support public policies that reduce manmade existential threats."

Last year, citing inaction on the climate and nukes, the group moved the hands of its infamous Doomsday Clock forward a half-minute, signaling to the global community that it was at greater risk of experiencing utter catastrophe. In a statement on Thursday, Bulletin president and CEO Rachel Bronson welcomed the world to "the new abnormal."

As Bronson put it:

This new abnormal is a pernicious and dangerous departure from the time when the United States sought a leadership role in designing and supporting global agreements that advanced a safer and healthier planet. The new abnormal describes a moment in which fact is becoming indistinguishable from fiction, undermining our very abilities to develop and apply solutions to the big problems of our time. The new abnormal risks emboldening autocrats and lulling citizens around the world into a dangerous sense of anomie and political paralysis.

In addition to explaining why the Bulletin decided to keep the clock at two minute to midnight—from the Trump administration ditching the Iran nuclear deal and INF treaty to record-high levels of planet-warming emissions—the group's 2019 statement also features "a framework for how citizens can begin to organize themselves and respond" to #RewindtheDoomsdayClock.

The highly anticipated announcement on Thursday sparked calls to action from members of the Bulletin and the public.

"Humanity faces two dire and simultaneous existential threats: nuclear weapons and climate change. The longer world leaders and citizens thoughtlessly inhabit this abnormal reality, the more likely it is that we will experience the unthinkable," former California Gov. Jerry Brown, the Bulletin's executive chairman, said in a statement.

Brown and former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry, chairman of the Bulletin's board of sponsors, charged in an op-ed published Thursday by CNN that "there is no reason the Doomsday Clock cannot move away from catastrophe. The 'new abnormal' can be made an unfortunate interlude in the world's history, rather than its final chapter. We must turn back the clock."


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