Scientists Claim We Are Closer To The End Of The World Than Ever Before

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Scientists Claim We Are Closer To The End Of The World Than Ever Before

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, stated in January “The Doomsday Clock now stands at 100 seconds to midnight, the most dangerous situation that humanity has ever faced. Now is the time to come together—to unite and to act.” The statement was signalling the belief that civilization is the closest it has been to immediate destruction than ever before, and in an even more dangerous situation than it faced during the most-tense days of the Cold War.


The ’Doomsday clock’ was first set up in 1949 just four years after the end of World War Two and the dropping of the first two atomic bombs by the United States on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The metaphorical clock was designed by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and each year the organisation estimates based on a series of calculations and factors how close the world is to ‘midnight’ which is when a disastrous event or events will unfold. Put simply, the more minutes we are from midnight the less likely it is that a disaster will occur, which also means that this distance from midnight will fluctuate year by year depending on prevailing global circumstances.


The clock has previously been set close to midnight, it was 2 minutes to midnight in 1953 when the United States and the Soviet Union began dropping Hydrogen bombs. It likewise came close to midnight during the 1963 Cuban Missile crisis and during the escalation of tensions between the then two super powers in the early 80s, while also moving as far from midnight as 17 minutes in 1991 as the Cold War ended.



Today’s threats and the 100 seconds from midnight show just how precarious the survival of civilisation has become in 2020. Bulletin president and CEO Rachel Bronson said that this close proximity to midnight was the world entering a ‘new abnormal’ as a result not only of nuclear proliferation but also of the actions of non-state actors and climate change.


“It is 100 seconds to midnight. We are now expressing how close the world is to catastrophe in seconds—not hours, or even minutes,” Bronson said. “It is the closest to Doomsday we have ever been in the history of the Doomsday Clock. We now face a true emergency—an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin for error or further delay.”



The 2020 statement stated:
“Faced with this daunting threat landscape and a new willingness of political leaders to reject the negotiations and institutions that can protect civilisation over the long term, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board today moves the Doomsday Clock 20 seconds closer to midnight—closer to apocalypse than ever. In so doing, board members are explicitly warning leaders and citizens around the world that the international security situation is now more dangerous than it has ever been, even at the height of the Cold War”.


It went on to say:
“This dangerous situation remains—and continues to deteriorate … the need for emergency action is urgent” and that states should “start talks on cyber warfare, missile defences, the militarisation of space, hypersonic technology, and the elimination of battlefield nuclear weapons”.



The Bulletin while calling on all countries to disarm their nuclear weapons and to tackle the climate crisis head on, did appear to single out the United States for not only not moving towards nuclear disarmament but also for pulling out of the 2015 Paris Climate Change agreement and for the backing of coal and fossil fuel industries by the US leadership.


While our world has been lucky so far to escape nuclear weapon based catastrophe this does not guarantee our safety into the future. Similarly the growing crisis of climate change, and rivalry over resources that will likely result from this, must be tackled if we are to move towards a safer future and as far away from midnight as possible.

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Thinking Humanity: Scientists Claim We Are Closer To The End Of The World Than Ever Before
Scientists Claim We Are Closer To The End Of The World Than Ever Before
Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, stated in January “The Doomsday Clock now stands at 100 seconds to midnight, the most dangerous situation that humanity has ever faced. Now is the time to come together—to unite and to act.” The statement was signalling the belief that civilization is the closest it has been to immediate destruction than ever before, and in an even more dangerous situation than it faced during the most-tense days of the Cold War.
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