Doomsday Clock sticks at two minutes to ‘midnight’
Scientists have kept the Doomsday Clock marker as near to midnight as it has ever been.
The Doomsday Clock will remain at two minutes to midnight for the second year running, scientists have announced.
The clock, which serves as a metaphor for global apocalypse, was moved forward by 30 seconds to two minutes before midnight by the clock’s keepers in January 2018.
Thursday’s announcement means the clock remains the closest to midnight as it has ever been, with the last time it was set at two minutes being in 1953.
Rachel Bronson, president and chief executive of the The Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists which sets the reading, said the world had now entered the “period of the new abnormal”.
She said “rhetoric” between the United States and North Korea had eased but remained “extremely dangerous”, while Russian and US relations were “unacceptably strained”.
She added: “We have entered a period that we call the new abnormal. This is unsustainable and unsettling.
“We appear to be normalising a very dangerous world in terms of the risks of nuclear war and climate change.
“The 2019 time should not be taken as as a sign of stability, but as a stark warning.
“This new abnormal is simply too volatile and too dangerous to accept.
“Recognising this grim reality we would like to announce it is still two minutes to midnight, remaining the closest to midnight the clock has ever been set.”
The countdown was established in 1947 by experts from The Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists who were working on the Manhattan Project to design and build the first atomic bomb.
The bulletin is an independent non-profit organisation run by some of the world’s most eminent scientists.
Originally intended to warn of the threat of nuclear armageddon, the Doomsday Clock also takes into account the likelihood of other emerging threats such as climate change and advances in biotechnology and artificial intelligence.
In a statement, the team said in 2019 humanity faced two “existential threats” through nuclear weapons and climate.
It added: “Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention.
“We have in fact entered a period that we call the new abnormal. This ‘new abnormal’ that the world now inhabits is unsustainable and unsettling. We appear to be normalizing a very dangerous world...” says @RachelBronson1 #DoomsdayClock https://t.co/FPPyojVEGr— BulletinOfTheAtomic (@BulletinAtomic) January 24, 2019
“These major threats — nuclear weapons and climate change — were exacerbated this past year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilisation in extraordinary danger.”
It also said that the world community had last year “failed dismally” to halt the worst effects of climate change in terms of cutting net worldwide carbon emissions.
It added: “To halt the worst effects of climate change, the countries of the world must cut net worldwide carbon dioxide emissions to zero by well before the end of the century. By such a measure, the world community failed dismally last year.”
Over the years the clock’s hands have moved forwards and backwards as the threats to the world changed.
In 2015, the clock was jumped forward by two minutes, taking it to three minutes to midnight. It remained unchanged in 2016.
In 2017, the clock was set two-and-a-half-minutes to midnight.
Last year it was moved once again to two minutes to midnight.