Today the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists made its annual Doomsday Clock pronouncement.
This year the clock has moved another 20 seconds closer to midnight. It is now set at 100 seconds to midnight.
This is closest the clock has ever been to midnight – the point of imminent threat of global disaster.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was an organisation set up in 1945 by a group of University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project.
They created the Doomsday Clock in 1947, “using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet”.
Every year the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board together with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel laureates, examine the current global threats and determine whether to set the clock nearer or further from midnight.
The Doomsday Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.
This year’s moving of the clock to 100 seconds to midnight is a reflection of both the growing threats of nuclear war and climate change…
Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.
On the nuclear front the Bulletin’s Board cite the continuing tensions in relations between the USA and Iran and North Korea, along with the ending and undermining of several major arms control treaties and negotiations during the past year.
On climate change they state…
This limited political response came during a year when the effects of manmade climate change were manifested by one of the warmest years on record, extensive wildfires, and quicker-than-expected melting of glacial ice.
Alongside these two major threats the Bulletin also consider information wars, and continued developments in biological engineering, hypersonic weapons and space weapons, and artificial intelligence as all increasing the global threat level.
To put this new clock setting in context it has previously ranged from 2 minutes to midnight in 1953 with the advent of the more powerful Hydrogen bombs, to a much more hopeful 17 minutes to midnight in 1991 following the end of the Cold War and significant nuclear weapons cuts.
Since 1991 the Clock has been on an ever diminishing path until it reached 2 minutes to midnight in 2018.
I am sure there will be detractors who dismiss the Doomsday Clock as attention seeking from the prophets of doom, but as a prepper I am quite willing to take notice, both as an indicator and a warning.
It certainly does nothing to lessen my growing sense of urgency to turn my prepping dial up to max.
And to top it all, the Bulletin in its pronouncement made no reference to the ongoing threat of global pandemics. The current coronavirus outbreak in China is a worrying reminder that that threat is always only a couple of mutations away from becoming reality.
These are dark and dangerous times we live in.
Sometimes it is so, so very hard to see the light at the end of the funnel…
The full 2020 Doomsday Clock Statement from the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is available here…
[ image by Gerd Altmann from pixabay.com ]