By Ryan Pickrell
The iconic-yet-imaginary Doomsday Clock is now two minutes to midnight, signaling that the world is the closest to a hypothetical global catastrophe that it’s been in decades.
Pointing to the challenges of climate change and the growing threat of nuclear war, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board announced publicly Thursday that the clock has moved forward 30 seconds, putting the symbolic Doomsday Clock the closest to midnight it’s been since 1953, when American and Soviet forces began testing thermonuclear weapons.
“World leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago—and as dangerous as it has been since World War II,” the related statement read, according to multiple reports.
The community of scientists who maintain the Doomsday Clock largely attributed the move toward annihilation to President Donald Trump, who they feel has endangered the world by raising tensions with North Korea, Iran, Russia and China and crippling international efforts to combat climate change. The group drew attention to “the decline of U.S. leadership and a related demise of diplomacy under the Trump administration,” as well as his “hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions.”
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board has maintained the Doomsday Clock since 1947, when the clock was first set at seven minutes to midnight. Over the years, it has moved backwards and forwards. The farthest the clock has been from midnight was 17 minutes in 1991, and the closest times are 1953 and 2018.
Thursday’s shift is the second year in a row the clock has advanced forward 30 seconds.
While some observers put stock in the predictions associated with the Doomsday Clock, others consider the clock a meaningless measure of a small group’s dissatisfaction with the current political climate.