The Doomsday Clock, an imaginary timepiece representing humanity's proximity to apocalyptic destruction, has been reset to show that mankind is now just two and a half minutes away from doomsday.
Humanity Moves 30 Seconds Closer To Global Catastrophe
On Thursday, Jan. 26, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the group of scientists that maintain the Doomsday Clock, moved the clock's minute hand 30 seconds closer to midnight, the hour that symbolizes global catastrophe.
The decision to move the hands of the clock is made by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Science and Security Board in consultation with the Board of Sponsors that include 15 Nobel Laureates.
Factors That Influenced Decision To Move Doomsday Clock's Minute Hand
Scientists said that the decision was influenced by several factors, which include a "darkening" security landscape worldwide, a growing disregard for scientific expertise, and United States President Donald Trump's comments on climate issues and nuclear weapons.
U.S. President Donald Trump Largely Prompted Scientists To Adjust The Doomsday Clock
Although there are several threats that influenced the decision to move the clock forward, Trump particularly prompted the scientists to act.
"Never before has the Bulletin decided to advance the clock largely because of the statements of a single person," Lawrence Krauss and David Titley of the Bulletin wrote in an op-ed. "But when that person is the new president of the United States, his words matter."
The board further criticized the U.S. president, saying that although he has just taken office, his lack of openness to expert advice, intemperate statements, and questionable nominations to the cabinet worsen the already-bad international security situation.
"This already-threatening world situation was the backdrop for a rise in strident nationalism worldwide in 2016, including in a U.S. presidential campaign during which the eventual victor, Donald Trump, made disturbing comments about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons and expressed disbelief in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change," the Bulletin said in a statement.
Indicator Of Humanity's Potential Doom
The minute hand is now closer to midnight than it has been since 1953, when the clock minute hand hit two minutes close to the time representing humanity's doom after the United States and the Soviet Union tested hydrogen bombs.
The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947, with the initial aim to serve as an indicator of the risk of disastrous nuclear conflicts. Over the years, it already takes into consideration other threats, which include biological weapons, cyber threats, and climate change, all of which also pose catastrophic danger to humanity.
The clock was last reset on Jan. 22, 2015, when the minute hand was moved to three minutes to midnight due to threats posed by the failure of the world's governments to fight climate change and the modernization of Russia's and United States's nuclear weapons programs. The minute hand was not moved in 2016.
The decision of the advisory board to adjust the clock by 30 seconds is the first in the Doomsday Clock's seven-decade history.