A gold watch resting on a brown wooden coffee table.

Two Minutes to Global Catastophe

By Caden Ziegler
Web Content Contributor

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Hear that? That’s the sound of the Doomsday Clock, which is a  clock used to count down man-made global catastrophe. It’s highly symbolic and uses a metric of time that isn’t standard. That being said, every time an event occurs that incites global tension, the clock gets moved up closer to midnight. As of Jan. 25, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that the clock would move from two and a half minutes from midnight to just two minutes.

The Doomsday Clock was invented in 1947 when the threat of nuclear warfare was high, and diplomatic relations were strung out. Members of the Bulletin’s Science and Security board meet twice every year to discuss current events and evaluate if the clock hands should be moved. Only in 2007 were environmental concerns considered by the board, but have remained a factor in the time ever since.

According to the Bulletin, the only other time the clock has been at two minutes till midnight was in 1953, “after the United States and the Soviet Union each tested their first thermonuclear weapons within six months of one another.” We don’t need to go digging a bunker and hoarding Chef Boyardee just yet because the clock can be reversed. It was originally set at seven minutes, but in 1991 it changed to 17 minutes after the Cold War ended.

That’s great news, but what happened over the last year to make them move it up 30 seconds?

One risk the Bulletin proposes is that “North Korea’s nuclear weapons program made remarkable progress in 2017, increasing risks to itself, other countries in the region, and the United States.”

North Korea isn’t the only nuclear threat though, currently China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, India, North Korea and Pakistan all have nuclear weapons. However, only the first five mentioned are a part of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The other main concerns of the Bulletin is climate change. They contend that if countries don’t work to significantly and rapidly decrease the emissions of carbon dioxide, then greater warming is definite. This would essentially leave the world unsustainable for human life.

The innovation and exploitation of information technologies also justifies moving the minute hand. The threat of countries using these “…technologies as weapons, among them internet-based deception campaigns aimed at undermining elections and popular confidence in institutions essential to free thought and global security” is increasing.

The entire report can be found here at the Bulletin’s website, so if you need a scary story to tell around the campfire it’s worth checking out. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

Featured image by Caden Ziegler.

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