‘Doomsday Clock’ Time Moves On WWIII, Nuclear War, Greenhouse Gas Fears

The end of the world is nigh, according to a group of scientists who maintain the famed “Doomsday Clock.” According to a report from Yahoo News, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists made an ominous apocalyptic warning on Thursday by moving the hands of the Armageddon clock two minutes closer to midnight. The group expressed their doomsday frustration over global powers ignoring threats of global warming and the need to dismantle nuclear weapon arsenals. World War 3 is not if, but when, unless a change occurs.

It’s been three years since the managers of the Doomsday Clock moved the hands. Before the recent move, the hour and minute hands were set to 11:55 p.m., or five minutes before midnight — the symbolic end of days.

The Bulletin is not a political or governing body. Instead, members meet annually, and a board of experts decide if there is any reason to make changes to the clock’s symbolic time. Many confuse the clock as a precision-like device that is used to make predictions based on science or prophecy. Instead, the Doomsday Clock time is used to issue warnings about the threats to life on Earth.

The visual representation of an apocalypse is based on two things the group believes could threaten humanity: proliferation of atomic weapons and climate change, both brought on by a lack of governmental intervention. Board members point to rising greenhouse gases that are a direct result of a dependency on fossil fuels. Although efforts are underway to find alternative sources of energy, infighting over land/drilling rights, taxation, and partisan politics stand in the way of saving the Earth’s environment.

A number of developed nations have signed treaties in place to reduce nuclear weapons, but as of late, deteriorating relationships among developed nations have contributed to a lack of adherence. Many believe a real threat of WWW 3 exists, along with a quiet Cold War. Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, spoke optimistically about the crisis that prompted the movement of time with the Doomsday Clock.

“We are not saying it is too late to take action but the window for action is closing rapidly. We move the clock hand today to inspire action.”

In regards to planetary annihilation, the experts say nations are expanding arsenals instead of drawing down the current amount, which numbers well into the thousands. For instance, Russia announced plans to upgrade its aging nukes, Pakistan is adding another plutonium reactor, and India has plans to expand its nuclear-armed sub fleet. And then there are rogue nations and governments believed to sponsor terrorism that may have a bomb or nuclear capability.

North Korea is threatening another nuclear weapons test, and Iran is said to have a covert program under the guise of providing an economical form of energy to residents. Sharon Squassoni, another board member, said there is inherent risk of non-action and complacency. She believes more awareness and legislation are needed to ward off catastrophe. Her main concern in moving the Doomsday Clock’s time has to do with safety concerns with nuclear arms.

“The risk from nuclear weapons is not that someone is going to press the button, but the existence of these weapons costs a lot of time, effort and money to keep them secure.”

The BAS was founded in 1945 by a group of scientists with the Manhattan Project, makers of the first atomic bomb. A member’s wife, artist Martyl Langsdorf, was actually behind the clock’s creation. The time on the Doomsday Clock was set to 11:53 p.m. Two years later, her husband changed it “four minutes later,” according to the Washington Post.

Over its seven decades, the hands on the iconic clock have been moved often. The year 1953 represents the closest the hands were to midnight (11:58 p.m.). This was a time when the United States and Russia conducted tests for the hydrogen bomb. The year 1991 represented a more optimistic time: The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed, which signaled a move towards nuclear disarmament. The Doomsday Clock time was then 17 minutes to midnight.

[Image via: Jaga27]