We’re running out of time.
That’s the verdict from the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. This distinguished body, a collection of the world’s finest scientific minds, has been responsible for setting the Doomsday Clock for seventy years.
When the Clock strikes Midnight the world ends.
The minute hand just moved thirty seconds closer.
The 2017 Doomsday Clock Statement notes:
“In 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come to grips with humanity’s most pressing threats: nuclear weapons and climate change.
Making matters worse, the United States now has a president who has promised to impede progress on both of those fronts. Never before has the Bulletin decided to advance the clock largely because of the statements of a single person. But when that person is the new president of the United States, his words matter.
This is the closest to midnight that the clock has been since 1953, when it was moved to two minutes to midnight after United States and the Soviet Union tested their first thermonuclear weapons within six months of one another.
We understand that Mr. Trump has been in office only days, that many of his cabinet nominees are awaiting confirmation and that he has had little time to take official action.
But Mr. Trump’s statements and actions have been unsettling. He has made ill-considered comments about expanding and even deploying the American nuclear arsenal. He has expressed disbelief in the scientific consensus on global warming. He has shown a troubling propensity to discount or reject expert advice related to international security. And his nominees to head the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Management and the Budget have disputed or questioned climate change.
Last year, and the year before, we warned that world leaders were failing to act with the speed and on the scale necessary to protect citizens from the extreme dangers posed by climate change and nuclear war. During the past year, the need for leadership intensified but was met with inaction and brinkmanship . . .
These are all matters in which President Trump has signaled that he would make matters worse either because of a mistaken belief that the threats posed by nuclear weapons and climate can be ignored or that the words of a president of the United States do not matter to the rest of the world.”
“The Trump Administration needs to state clearly and unequivocally that it accepts climate change caused by human activity as reality. No problem can be solved unless its existence is first recognized.”
– David Titley from The Bulletin for Atomic Scientists
The 2017 Doomsday Clock Statement concludes with words we should all take to heart:
“For the last two years, the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock stayed set at three minutes before the hour, the closest it had been to midnight since the early 1980s. In its two most recent annual announcements on the Clock, the Science and Security Board warned: “The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.” In 2017, we find the danger to be even greater, the need for action more urgent. It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.”
About the Doomsday Clock
The Editor’s Note of the 2017 Doomsday Clock Statement explains:
“Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 15 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and new technologies emerging in other domains.”
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
2017 Doomsday Clock Statement