The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Doomsday Clock Stays at Three Minutes to Midnight: At the 'Brink' of Man-Made Apocalypse
With "utter dismay," the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced Tuesday that the symbolic Doomsday Clock will hold at three minutes to midnight—at the "brink" of man-made apocalypse—because world leaders have failed to take the necessary steps to protect citizens from the grave threats of nuclear war and runaway climate change.
"Three minutes (to midnight) is too close. Far too close," reads the statement by the Bulletin's Science and Security Board.
The decision not to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock "is not good news," it continues, "but an expression of dismay that world leaders continue to fail to focus their efforts and the world's attention on reducing the extreme danger posed by nuclear weapons and climate change. When we call these dangers existential, that is exactly what we mean: They threaten the very existence of civilization and therefore should be the first order of business for leaders who care about their constituents and their countries."
The Bulletin's Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 17 Nobel Laureates, ruled last year to move the clock forward from five minutes to midnight to three in response to the competing threats of "unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals."
The board acknowledged some bright spots over the past year, namely the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris Climate Accord, but said that "they constitute only small bright spots in a darker world situation full of potential for catastrophe."
The statement continues:
Even as the Iran agreement was hammered out, tensions between the U.S. and Russia rose to levels reminiscent of the worst periods of the Cold War. Conflict in Ukraine and Syria continued, accompanied by dangerous bluster and brinkmanship, with Turkey, a NATO member, shooting down a Russian warplane involved in Syria, the director of a state-run Russian news agency making statements about turning the U.S. to radioactive ash and NATO and Russia repositioning military assets and conducting significant exercises with them. Washington and Moscow continue to adhere to most existing nuclear arms control agreements, but the U.S., Russia and other nuclear weapons countries are engaged in programs to modernize their nuclear arsenals, suggesting that they plan to keep and maintain the readiness of their nuclear weapons for decades, at least—despite their pledges, codified in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to pursue nuclear disarmament.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, the presenters repeatedly called attention to U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to modernize the country's nuclear arsenal.
"What message does this send to non-nuclear nations about our intention to build smaller, more useable weapons?" asked Lawrence Krauss, chair of the Board of Sponsors and foundation professor at the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics departments at Arizona State University. "There is no sane strategic use of nuclear weapons. We need to reduce our nuclear aresenal, not make a new generation of weapons."
Further, the panel described the COP21 agreement as merely a "tentative success."
Sivan Kartha, a member of the Board and senior scientist and climate change expert with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), said national pledges to reduce carbon emissions are "manifestly, unequivocally inadequate."
"The voluntary pledges made in Paris to limit greenhouse gas emissions are insufficient to the task of averting drastic climate change," he continued. "These incremental steps must somehow evolve into the fundamental change in world energy systems needed if climate change is to ultimately be arrested."
Since the clock was first introduced in 1947, the hands have moved 22 times. As Rachel Bronson, executive director and publisher of the Bulletin, explained, the clock represents a "summary view of leading experts deeply engaged in the existential issues of our time."
It has become a "universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability" and is a symbol of "how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making," the Bulletin states. Such dangers include nuclear weapons, "climate-changing technologies, emerging biotechnologies and cybertechnology that could inflict irrevocable harm, whether by intention, miscalculation or by accident, to our way of life and to the planet."
The clock does not move every year. In fact, prior to 2015, the countdown hadn't changed since 2012, when it ticked ahead one minute.
A broadcast of this year's announcement can be viewed here.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.
Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.
Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.
At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.
By Sabrina Kessler
Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.
By Alex Robinson
Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.
The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.
Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.