Doomsday Clock Holds Steady At Three Minutes To Midnight

The Doomsday Clock has been a way to symbolize just how close to our destruction we are. When the clock strikes midnight, Armageddon will be upon us. At the latest meeting of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has not moved the hands on the clock from where they were a year ago. Civilization remains three minutes away from midnight.

“Three minutes (to midnight) is too close. Far too close.”

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists looks at the chaos in the world and tries to determine if any progress has been made or lost over the course of a year. Depending on their vision of the future, the hands on the Doomsday Clock are moved forward or backward accordingly. In their latest meeting, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists stated that tension with Russia, North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons, and no progress made in climate change made them feel that humanity is not closer or farther away from their destruction since last year. Lawrence Krauss, chair of the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, commented on the latest setting of the Doomsday Clock.

“Unless we change the way we think, humanity remains in serious danger.”

Humanity has made some progress since the setting of the clock a year ago. The United States and Iran have started on the nuclear agreement that was agreed to last year, and the climate summit in France was a start for the countries of the world to try and stop climate change from altering the planet further. Even though these events are considered great steps forward, other problems in the world have negated the good that has been done.

The Doomsday Clock was first established in 1947. The initial setting of the clock was seven minutes until midnight. In 1953, Earth found itself the closest to destruction when the clock was set at two minutes to midnight. The reason for the clock setting was due to the first time a hydrogen bomb was tested by the United States. It did not take long until Russia tested a hydrogen bomb of its own.

“The hands of the Clock of Doom have moved again. Only a few more swings of the pendulum, and, from Moscow to Chicago, atomic explosions will strike midnight for Western civilization.”

The furthest away from midnight was in 1991 when the Doomsday Clock was set at 17 minutes to midnight. The United States and Russia were no longer entrenched in the Cold War. Both countries were making progress in shrinking their arsenals of nuclear weapons due to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

“The illusion that tens of thousands of nuclear weapons are a guarantor of national security has been stripped away.”

There is still hope for humanity. The Doomsday Clock can be reversed by making large leaps in reducing the number of nuclear weapons on the planet, especially in North Korea, and by taking the threat of climate change more seriously. A report completed earlier this year stated that the year 2015 was the warmest one on record. Krauss stated that humanity needs to alter how it thinks in order to make sure civilization survives.

Climate change expert Sivan Kartha commented about climate change.

“Promising though it may be, the Paris climate agreement came toward the end of Earth’s warmest year on record, with the increase in global temperature over pre-industrial levels surpassing one degree Celsius.”

Will we see the Doomsday Clock get even closer to midnight next year? Will humanity have changed enough to give the Earth a little more breathing room, or will doomsday happen in 2016?

[Image via Junko Kimura/Getty Images]