The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists just issued their first update to the symbolic Doomsday Clock since 2012, announcing that we have advanced by two minutes and are now at “three minutes to midnight”—with midnight referring to the end of the planet. The reason for this alarming stance? “Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity,” explains the Bulletin.
As their name might suggest, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was initially concerned with the threat posed by nuclear weapons. The Doomsday Clock first appeared in 1947, positioned at seven minutes to midnight. In 1949, as the Soviet Union conducted their first tests, the clock moved to three minutes to midnight. And in 1953, when the U.S. tested the first hydrogen bomb we advanced another minute towards doomsday.
So why is this important in the context of climate change? Well, in 2012 the Bulletin factored in climate change for the first time. Since the Cold War, they had been concerned with India, Pakistan, North Korea, terrorists, and the threat posed by any of those with a nuclear weapon. In 2012, scientists determined that inaction towards climate change is also pushing us towards doomsday—and poses a threat just as urgent as nuclear proliferation. And now, we’re a little bit closer again.
Take a look at recent headlines, and you’ll realize this is perhaps no surprise: 2014 was the hottest year ever, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere stand at 400ppm for the first time in history and sea creatures are dying off at an alarming rate. All of this we know, and yet, the Bulletin emphasizes, we are failing to take appropriate action.
Kennette Benedict, the executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists explained the group’s current position in a statement on Thursday: “The clock ticks now at just three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty—ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.” But, Benedict emphasized, “We are not saying it is too late to take action, but the window to take action is closing rapidly.”
Via The Guardian