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Doomsday Clock moves to five minutes to midnight

January 11, 2012 at 10:57 pm By Roz Potter

From the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,  Link

Excerpt:

It is five minutes to midnight. Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed. For that reason, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving the clock hand one minute closer to midnight, back to its time in 2007.

About the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was established in 1945 by scientists, engineers, and other experts who had created the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project. They knew about the horrible effects of these new weapons and devoted themselves to warning the public about the consequences of using them. Those early scientists also worried about military secrecy, fearing that leaders might draw their countries into increasingly dangerous nuclear confrontations without the full consent of their citizens.

The Doomsday Clock

In 1947, the Bulletin first displayed the Clock on its magazine cover to convey, through a simple design, the perils posed by nuclear weapons. The Clock evokes both the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero). In 1949, the Clock hand first moved to signal our assessment of world events and trends. The decision to move the minute hand is made by the Bulletin’s Board of Directors in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences.

Today’s challenges

When we moved the hand of the Clock from 7 to 5 minutes to midnight in January 2007, the Bulletin’s Board of Directors warned about two major sources of potential catastrophe: the perils of 27,000 nuclear weapons in the world, 2,000 of them ready to launch in minutes, and the destruction of human habitats from climate change.

The Bulletin publishes information from leading scientists and security experts who explore the potential for terrible damage to societies from human-made technologies.
We focus as well on ways to prevent catastrophe from the malign or accidental use of nuclear, carbon-based, and biology-based technologies. After all, these technologies are ones that we create; it is in our power to channel them solely for benign purposes.

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