BY EDITOR’S NEWS DESK STAFF
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves the doomsday clock one minute closer to midnight.
11 January 2012
(STARpod.org) — Doomsday is another minute closer, according to The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
The Doomsday Clock, which “conveys how close humanity is to catastrophic destruction,” is now five minutes from “the figurative midnight.”
“Faced with inadequate progress on nuclear weapons reduction and proliferation, and continuing inaction on climate change, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) announced today that it has moved the hands of its famous ‘Doomsday Clock’ to five minutes to midnight,” according to a BAS press release.
Reasons given for the gloomy assessment of the future included nuclear issues and global climate change.
“Obstacles to a world free of nuclear weapons remain. Among these are disagreements between the United States and Russia about the utility and purposes of missile defense, as well as insufficient transparency, planning, and cooperation among the nine nuclear weapons states to support a continuing drawdown … The potential for nuclear weapons use in regional conflicts in the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and particularly in South Asia is also alarming.”
In addition to the threat from nuclear weapons, The Bulletin notes that the peaceful use of nuclear energy has come into question, following the Fukushima reactor crisis in 2011.
An especially gloomy assessment was given for climate change due to changes in the Earth’s atmosphere.
“The global community may be near a point of no return,” and unless there is major progress on alternatives to carbon energy production, “the world is doomed to a warmer climate, harsher weather, droughts, famine, water scarcity, rising sea levels, loss of island nations, and increasing ocean acidification.”
The Doomsday Clock has been reset numerous times since it first appeared in 1947.
- The clock was set at three minutes to doomsday in 1949 after President Harry Truman announced the Soviet Union had tested their first atomic weapon.
- The clock moved only two minutes from doomsday in 1953, following the development of the far more destructive hydrogen bomb.
- The clock was set back to 12 minutes from doomsday following the Partial Test Ban Treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in 1963.
- Five years later, increasing world conflicts and the addition of China and France to the nuclear weapons club moved the hand ahead five minutes, but a year later, in 1969, the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty set the clock hand to ten minutes to midnight.
- The signing of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty moved the hand back another two minutes in 1972.
- The addition of India to the nuclear armed states moved the clock nine minutes from midnight in 1974.
- Increasing tensions between the superpowers in the early 1980s following the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union pushed the clock to only four minutes to doomsday. The U.S. announcement of a Star Wars missile defense system in 1984 set the clock within three minutes of the end of the world, approaching the two minute record in 1953.
- Improving relations between the superpowers in the late 1980s leads to the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The Doomsday Clock is again set back, this time to six minutes. The breakup of the Soviet Union pushes the clock further back, and with the end of the cold war the clock reaches 17 minutes from doomsday in 1991.
- The retreat was short lived as concerns about a potential nuclear crisis between India and Pakistan, nuclear weapons development in North Korea, and the potential for a loose nuke terrorist attack bring the clock hand ever closer to midnight. By 2005, the clock had moved only five minutes from doomsday.
- A brief moment of optimism in 2010 set the clock at six minutes. Hopes faded once again as little progress had been made on the core issues of nuclear weapons proliferation, danger from catastrophic damage to nuclear power plants and disruption of the global climate.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists explained their decision: “Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed.”
Copyright © 2012 STARstream Research — All rights reserved.