On Thursday, January 24, 2019 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists kept the Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight, which is the emblematic end of human existence. The Doomsday Clock was moved to two minutes to midnight on January 25, 2018.
‘A New Abnormal’
According to The Washington Post, the scientists called it “a new abnormal,” saying that their decision not to move the clock Thursday had to do with “two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention.”
Watch the video from today's #DoomsdayClock announcement! Plus interviews with Bulletin pres & CEO @RachelBronson1, Bulletin Science & Security Board chair Bob Rosner, and Science & Security Board members Suzet McKinney and Daniel Holz: https://t.co/N1bI8lh1z1 pic.twitter.com/tOzEupLWUj
— Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (@BulletinAtomic) January 24, 2019
The clock was set at two minutes to midnight in 2018, which was as close as it has been since 1953 during the height of the Cold War.
“The fact that the Doomsday Clock’s hands did not change is bad news,” chair of the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board Robert Rosner told CNN.
Scientists blamed a cocktail of threats ranging from dangerous political rhetoric to the potential of a nuclear threat as the catalysts for moving the clock closer toward doomsday in 2018.
“The greatest risks [in 2017] arose in the nuclear realm,” the group said in a statement in January 2018. “North Korea’s nuclear weapons program appeared to make remarkable progress in 2017, increasing risks for itself, other countries in the region, and the United States.”
Besides nuclear weapons, climate change is another major cause. “Global carbon dioxide emissions–which seemed to plateau earlier this decade–resumed an upward climb in 2017 and 2018,” the Bulletin stated.
“To halt the worst effects of climate change, the countries of the world must cut net worldwide carbon dioxide emissions to zero by well before the end of the century.”
“These major threats–nuclear weapons and climate change–were exacerbated this past year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilization in extraordinary danger,” the bulletin also said in a statement. “The ‘new abnormal’ that we describe, and that the world now inhabits, is unsustainable and extremely dangerous.”
“The world security situation can be improved, if leaders seek change and citizens demand it,” the statement added. “It is 2 minutes to midnight, but there is no reason the Doomsday Clock cannot move away from catastrophe.”
What Is Doomsday Clock?
Doomsday Clock is a symbol which represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. The Clock is a metaphor for threats to humanity from unchecked scientific and technical advances. The Clock has been maintained since 1947 by the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a non-profit group that sets the clock.
Each year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decides whether the events of the previous year pushed humanity closer or farther from destruction.
The closer to midnight we are, the more danger we’re in. According to the group, the clock “conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making.”
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) January 24, 2019
The Clock’s original setting in 1947 was 17 minutes to midnight. It has been set backward and forwards 23 times since then, the smallest-ever number of minutes to midnight being two in both 1953 and 2018 and the largest is 17 in 1991. As of January 2019, the clock is still at two minutes to midnight, making it the third time it’s been the closest to the apocalypse.