It is three minutes to midnight – the end of the world is near. According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, their analysis of world’s end is closer than it has been since the Soviet Union was constructing the hydrogen bomb in 1963. The “Doomsday Clock,” as they call it, measures the current threats to the Earth and the population, thereof.
The Doomsday Clock has been around for 68 years and was first introduced in light of impending nuclear war between the nuclear-capable countries of the world. It was originally set after the nuclear attacks on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan were carried out by the United States in 1947. However, nuclear war is not the only threat that faces us today. Climate change is now said to be the main instigator of the movement of the minute hand on the clock.
A member of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Richard Somerville, stated, “Human influence on the climate system is clear.” His analysis of the situation is based on the increasing average temperatures of the Earth during the summers of the last three decades. Temperature records are being broken every summer since the 1980s – this is not good news for the people of Earth. In 2014, scientists recorded the hottest summer on record. Moreover, 14 of the last 15 summers since 2000 have been increasingly warmer and have broken records ever since.
A poll was conducted on Thursday prior to the clock being reset which revealed that 73 percent of respondents thought the minute hand on the clock should be moved further towards the end of the world time of midnight. Only 27 percent of the public believed it should have been moved backwards, further away from the end of the world at the stroke of midnight.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists explained that, “Climate change and increasing concerns about nuclear weapons are the main factors influencing the decision about any additional adjustment that may be made to the Doomsday Clock.” The final decision to adjust the clock of cataclysmic catastrophe is made by the Bulletin’s Board of Directors, who are advised by the Boards of Sponsors. The Board of Sponsors is not lacking in intelligence – the Board includes 17 Nobel Laureates.
Since its inception, the Doomsday Clock has been recognized around the world as an indicator of the world’s vulnerability to an end of the world apocalypse caused by climate change, emerging technologies, artificial intelligence, weapons of mass destruction, and numerous, yet possibly life-threatening, advances in life science.
Last year, President Barack Obama announced that the United States will engage in a 30-year plan to modernize its nuclear program. Whether that means for energy or for weapons-grade technology, it is unclear at the moment. According to the Center on Nuclear Security, the modernization proposed is anticipated to cost over one trillion dollars.
Recent terror attacks may be a contributor to the adjustment of the Doomsday Clock. Recent attacks in France at the Charlie Hebdo Museum and increasing ISIS violence could move the minute hand even closer to midnight. However, there is also a chance that the ticking time bomb of the clock’s minute hand may be moved back from the end of the world, though it is not clear at the moment.
Nonetheless, society must realize that something must be done to change the direction we are going into the future. If not, civilization could be facing the end of the world.
By Alex Lemieux