Quantcast
Climate

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

Josh Fox: ‘We Are Not drowning, We Are Fighting’

Opposition Grows to Fracking and Fracking Infrastructure Projects

Is There a Ninth Planet in Our Solar System?

6 Ways to Kick Fossil Fuel Money Out of Politics

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Rice University marine biologist Adrienne Correa takes samples at a reef in Flower Garden Banks. Jesse Cancelmo / Rice University

Hurricane Harvey Runoff Threatens Coral Reefs

Hurricane Harvey's record rains didn't just unleash a torrent of floodwaters into the Gulf of Mexico—this freshwater could be harming coral reefs which require saltwater to live, according to new research.

After Harvey dumped more than 13 trillion gallons of rain over southeast Texas, researchers detected a 10 percent drop in salinity at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, located 100 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas.

Keep reading... Show less

Pruitt Wants to Make the EPA Less Accountable to the Public

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) breaks the law by missing deadlines, allowing polluters to violate regulations that protect our health and environment, one way the public holds it accountable is by taking the agency to court. Scott Pruitt and his corporate polluter allies see this as a problem, so Monday, the administrator moved to curtail the agency's practice of settling lawsuits with outside groups, making it easier to skirt the law.

"Pruitt's doing nothing more than posturing about a nonexistent problem and political fiction," John Walke, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate and Clean Air program said in reaction. "His targeting of legal settlements, especially where EPA has no defense to breaking the law, will just allow violations to persist, along with harms to Americans."

Keep reading... Show less
Oil on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. Julie Dermansky

Nearly 400,000 Gallons of Oil Spews Into Gulf of Mexico, Could Be Largest Spill Since Deepwater Horizon

Last week, a pipe owned by offshore oil and gas operator LLOG Exploration Company, LLC spilled up to 393,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, reminding many observers of the Deepwater Horizon explosion seven years ago that spewed approximately 210 million gallons of crude into familiar territory.

Now, a report from Bloomberg suggests that the LLOG spill could be the largest in the U.S. since the 2010 BP blowout, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

Keep reading... Show less
Shutterstock

Big Food Is Worried About Millennials Avoiding Animal Products

By Nathan Runkle

Hundreds of leaders from fast-food chains, marketing agencies and poultry production companies recently gathered in North Carolina for the 2017 Chicken Marketing Summit to play golf and figure out how to make you eat more animals.

One session focused on marketing chicken to millennials. Richard Kottmeyer, a senior managing partner at Fork to Farm Advisory Services, explained to the crowd that millennials are "lost" and need to be "inspired and coached." His reasoning? Because there are now "58 ways to gender identify on Facebook." Also, because most millennial women take nude selfies, the chicken industry needs to be just as "naked" and transparent.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Strange Days: Ex-Hurricane Ophelia Batters Ireland Under Orange Skies

By Dr. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson

Ex-Hurricane Ophelia hit Ireland hard with full hurricane-like fury on Monday, bringing powerful winds that caused widespread damage and power outages. At least two deaths have been reported from trees falling on cars, and The Irish Times said at least 360,000 ESB Networks customers lost power in Ireland because of the storm.

Keep reading... Show less
GMO
PBouman / Shutterstock

EPA Limits Use of Problematic Herbicide Dicamba—But Is That Enough?

By Dan Nosowitz

Dicamba has been in use as a local pesticide for decades, but it's only recently that Monsanto has taken to using it in big, new ways. The past two years have seen the rollout of dicamba-resistant seed for soybean and cotton, as well as a new way to apply it: broad spraying.

But dicamba, it turns out, has a tendency to vaporize and drift with the wind, and it if lands on a farm that hasn't planted Monsanto's dicamba-resistant seed, the pesticide will stunt and kill crops in a very distinctive way, with a telltale cupping and curling of leaves, as seen above. Drift from dicamba has affected millions of acres of crops, prompting multiple states to issue temporary bans on the pesticide. Farmers have been taking sides, either pro-dicamba or anti, and at least one farmer has been killed in a dispute over its use.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Runoff from a farm field in Iowa during a rain storm. Lynn Betts / U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Drinking Water for Millions in Rural America Contaminated With Suspected Carcinogen

Drinking water supplies for millions of Americans in farm country are contaminated with a suspected cancer-causing chemical from fertilizer, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group.

The contaminant is nitrate, which gets into drinking water sources when chemical fertilizer or manure runs off poorly protected farm fields. Nitrate contaminates drinking water for more than 15 million people in 49 states, but the highest levels are found in small towns surrounded by row-crop agriculture. Major farm states where the most people are at risk include California, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kansas.

Keep reading... Show less
www.youtube.com

Trump's Approval Rating on Hurricane Response Sinks 20 Points After Puerto Rico

President Trump's approval rating for overseeing the federal government's response to hurricanes fell by 20 points after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, a CNN poll conducted by SSRS revealed.

Trump's approval rating for responding to hurricanes Harvey and Irma stood at 64 percent in mid-September. Just a month later, the rating dropped to 44 percent.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

Get EcoWatch in your inbox