We Are Now Two Minutes Closer to Doomsday

Scientists have moved the Doomsday Clock to the highest threat level since the Cold War, blaming rising threats from unchecked climate change and nuclear weapons.
Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images

Our leaders are failing, and planetary destruction is nigh.

That’s the message sent today by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which moved the historic Doomsday Clock forward by two ticks. It’s now three minutes to midnight. The rising threats from unchecked climate change and nuclear weapons have created the biggest existential crisis for humanity since the Cold War, according to the group. Not since the 1950s has civilization been more imperiled.

The Doomsday Clock was established in 1947 by Manhattan Project scientists who built the world’s first atomic bomb. The idea was to create a visible symbol to help the public understand the threats humanity has foisted upon itself. The group’s Security Board meets twice a year to determine the threat level. Advisers to the board include 17 Nobel prize laureates.

“World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required,” the Security Board wrote in a statement today. “In 2015, unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity.”

Since the clock was first set in 1947, it’s been adjusted 18 times. The safest period was from 1991 to 1994, when the clock was 17 minutes from midnight. The last time the clock was this close to the apocalypse of midnight was during the Cold War tensions of the mid-1980s. The clock was last adjusted, by one minute, in 2012.

doomsday-chart-up

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said the following actions must be taken to roll the clock back:

  • Cap greenhouse gas emissions at levels that would keep global warming below 2C (3.6F)
  • Dramatically cut spending on nuclear weapons modernization
  • Reinvigorate the nuclear disarmament process
  • Deal with the problem of nuclear waste
Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.
LEARN MORE