By Shamel Dishack
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has advanced the Doomsday Clock’s hand by 30 seconds. It is now two minutes to midnight, something that only occurred once back in 1953. According to The New York Times, concerns about humanity’s proximity to nuclear disaster has always stood on the minds of scientists and policymakers, but with this shift to midnight, there is now more to worry about.
According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2018 has witnessed escalations of nuclear rhetoric, ever increasing negligence towards climate change, and extensive abuse of social media and factual sources by world leaders. The Science and Security Board has sent a clear to the world that danger is imminent and close. They warn that if leaders do not react for the interests of its civilians and the planet, then the world may plunge into chaos and insanity.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is an independent and nonprofit organization. For decades, it has actively pursued to remind the world of the danger that looms over us. Founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists who have sought redemption for the destructive capabilities of their works, the Bulletin engages science leaders, policymakers, and the populous in discussions surrounding nuclear weapons, climate change, and technological shifts. Using fact based assessments and vigorous research, the Bulletin hopes to provide context, and universal understanding of what is at stake, and open talks for remedies and solutions.
The Doomsday Clock operates where the closer the hand is to midnight, the closer we are to an apocalyptic outcome. Since 1947, the clock has designated a time for years marked by significant events.
This recent movement of the clock’s hand to two minutes to midnight is a clear sign that scientists are concerned about humankind’s trajectory. CNN reports that he decision to move the clock’s hand requires meticulous work where the Science and Security Board meets twice a year to discuss events at hand and its staff works full time. After much discussion, a conclusion is then brought up to the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors.
Lawrence Krauss, chair of the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, has said that “We’ve made the clear statement that we feel the world is getting more dangerous,” according to USA Today. From battling political figures to ever-increasing tensions in international security, scientists from the Bulletin have seen these as catalysts for moving the clock closer.
John Mecklin, the editor of the 2018 Doomsday Clock Statement provides context behind the decision to push the clock’s hand. He attributes the world’s situation to factors such as distrust in media and government, increases in nuclear arsenals amongst nations like Pakistan and North Korea, development of automated weaponry, failure to mitigate the damages of climate change, and direct/indirect misuse of sophisticated technologies.
Emerging technology has not moved the hand yet, but the board urges leaders to develop institutions that monitor advances in our technology so the positive aspects are enhanced while the negatives are discarded. With rapid developments in artificial intelligence and synthetic biology, there is much to worry about in the future.
Mecklin tells the public that these errors are amendable. In fact,e dedicates a good portion of the statement to proposing ways of which the Doomsday clock can be rewound. In his owns words, he reminds us that “Humankind has invented the implements of apocalypse; so can it invent the methods of controlling and eventually eliminating them”.
The clock may have just ticked closer to existential threats and an annihilating end, but the world is just as capable of defusing these tensions, as they are capable of creating them. However, if world leaders do not adhere to the warnings of the Bulletin, then many fear that these same mistakes will forth to the next year, while creating new ones.