Happy Thursday! We're closer to the end of the world than we have been in years. I hope that doesn't put a damper on your weekend.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reset the Doomsday Clock today to three minutes before midnight. This is two minutes closer than the clock has been set since January 2012 when the hands were placed at five minutes to midnight. The last time we've been so close to the end of the human race was during the Cold War in 1984.
"The probability of global catastrophe is very high," said Kennette Benedict, the executive director and the publisher of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, at a news conference in Washington, D.C., as reported by USA Today. "This is about the end of civilization as we know it."
The way the Doomsday Clock works is the closer the hands get to midnight, the closer a worldwide disaster is predicted to occur. The reason the clock has moved forward this year is partly the result of rising concerns over climate change. The last three decades have been warmer than each preceding one, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' Richard Somerville said at the news conference. The rising threat of nuclear war is also a major concern.
We don't really need a metaphorical clock to tell us the world is in bad shape. Last year was the hottest year on record, and every day we read about terrible events that threaten the well-being of people all over the world. The Doomsday Clock just confirms any suspicion we had about the dismal fate of humanity. Oh good. So glad we got that settled.
The closest the clock has ever gotten to midnight was two minutes in 1953 after the hydrogen bomb was first tested. In fact, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by a group of University of Chicago scientists that helped develop the first nuclear weapons during World War II. The Doomsday Clock was first set shortly after in 1947.
The Board of Directors of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists decide when and where to move the clock's minute hand. This is in consultation with the organization's Board of Sponsors, which includes 17 Nobel Laureates.
OK, so it's not exactly the end of the world as we know it. It's not time to panic yet, but we're definitely getting too close for comfort.