The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on Jan. 25 advanced the minute hand of its Doomsday Clock to two minutes of midnight from its previous two-and-a-half minutes. "In 2017, 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 Bulletin said in a statement. Finding that the "greatest risks last year arose in the nuclear realm," the statement of course cited the crisis over North Korea's atomic program, but also ongoing military exercises along the borders of NATO, upgrading of nuclear arsenals by the US and Russia, tensions over the South China Sea, a nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan, and uncertainty about continued US support for the Iran nuclear deal. These threats are worsened by "a breakdown in the international order that has been dangerously exacerbated by recent US actions."
Amid all this, the threat of global ecological collapse looms ever closer. "Global carbon dioxide emissions have not yet shown the beginnings of the sustained decline towards zero that must occur if ever-greater warming is to be avoided. The nations of the world will have to significantly decrease their greenhouse gas emissions to keep climate risks manageable, and so far, the global response has fallen far short of meeting this challenge."
And finally the very nature of our media and information technology is dramatically eroding our ability to confront these problems: "Beyond the nuclear and climate domains, technological change is disrupting democracies around the world as states seek and exploit opportunities to use information technologies as weapons, among them internet-based deception campaigns aimed at undermining elections and popular confidence in institutions essential to free thought and global security."
Under the hashtag #rewindtheDoomsdayClock, the Bulletin concludes with a call to popular action: "The world has seen the threat posed by the misuse of information technology and witnessed the vulnerability of democracies to disinformation. But there is a flip side to the abuse of social media. Leaders react when citizens insist they do so, and citizens around the world can use the power of the internet to improve the long-term prospects of their children and grandchildren. They can insist on facts, and discount nonsense. They can demand action to reduce the existential threat of nuclear war and unchecked climate change. They can seize the opportunity to make a safer and saner world."
Safety issues seen in nuclear re-armament
From Public Radio International, May 7:
The NNSA was called in to oversee the Obama administration's nuclear "modernization," which was pursed instead of actual disarmament. But this looks considerably worse. Redolent of the Reagan cold war, when breakneck warhead production led to safety corner-cutting, making the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state the most highly contaminated nuclear weapons site in the US…
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Welcome to ‘The New Abnormal’
Citing lack of progress on nuclear risks and climate change dangers as "the new abnormal," the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists kept the Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight—as close to the symbolic point of annihilation that the iconic Clock has been since 1953 at the height of the Cold War. (BAS)
Doomsday Clock 100 seconds to midnight
The Doomsday Clock is now closer to midnight than at any point since its creation in 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced Jan. 23. Citing three worsening threats—”nuclear weapons,” “climate change” and “cyber-based disinformation”—the BAS has moved the clock to 100 seconds to midnight.