Apocalypse now? Doomsday Clock stuck at two minutes to midnight, declared a ‘new abnormal’
At least it’s not one minute to midnight.
As it has for more than six decades, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has made a yearly adjustment on the symbolic “Doomsday Clock,” which is meant to show how close humanity is to ultimate destruction by wars, bombs and other causes.
The organization announced Thursday that it’s two minutes to the doomsday hour just as it was in 2018.
“A new abnormal: It is still two minutes to midnight. Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention,” the organization said in a statement on Thursday, citing an increased used of “information warfare to undermine democracy” as one of the influences on their decision.
The clock was also set at two minutes in 2018, the closest the iconic timepiece had come to a doomsday moment since 1953, when both the U.S. and the Soviet Union were testing atomic weapons and the Cold War was well underway.
“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,” said former California Gov. Jerry Brown, who was named as executive chair of the organization last year.
The clock itself was created in 1947 and originally set at seven minutes to midnight. It retreated to 17 minutes to midnight in 1991 at the end of the Cold War but has been creeping close to the apocalypse ever since.
Mr. Brown now suggests a new Cold War is underway.
“The world’s nuclear nations are proceeding with programs of so-called nuclear modernization that are all but indistinguishable from a worldwide arms race, and the military doctrines of Russia and the United States have increasingly eroded the long-held taboo against the use of nuclear weapons,” Mr. Brown wrote with former Defense Secretary William Perry in a CNN op-ed on Thursday.
They also suggested that “the world community failed dismally” in its efforts to deal with climate change.
The annual decision about the clock is not without politics.
“In January 2017, the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand edged forward by 30 seconds, to two and a half minutes before midnight. For the first time, the Doomsday Clock was influenced by statements from an incoming U.S. President, Donald Trump, regarding the proliferation and the prospect of actually using nuclear weapons, as well as statements made in opposition to US commitments regarding climate change,” the organization noted.