The 'Doomsday Clock' has been considered since 1945 as the scientific indicator for how close humanity is to global catastrophe. Well we've got some bad news, today scientists kept the clock at its most severe setting since the Cold War.
The clock allows scientists to set a metaphorical time which counts down to midnight, midnight being of course the end of the world.
Up until January 2015, the clock was set at 11:55, giving humanity five minutes. It was changed from five to just three minutes and had remained that way until now.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board have since published an open letter to the governments of the world announcing that the clock will remain at 11:57 for another year.
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Writing today in The New Yorker, Lawrence M. Krauss chair of the Bulletin's board of sponsors made a clear and unwavering warning to back up the board's decision last week.
"As Albert Einstein said, after the first nuclear weapon was used in war, “Everything has changed, save the way we think.” Unless we change the way we think, humanity remains in serious danger.
We should not be cowed into inaction by the daunting nature of the challenges we face. Instead, we have to face them head on."
Krauss makes a list of parameters which must be addressed in order for the clock to be moved to a safer position:
- Leaders must dramatically reduce proposed spending on nuclear-weapons-modernization programs.
- They must reënergize the disarmament process, with a focus on results.
- They must engage with North Korea to reduce nuclear risks.
- They must begin to deal with the problem of commercial nuclear waste, in particular by agreeing on workable international storage sites.
- They must follow up on the Paris accord with actions that sharply reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
- They must create institutions specifically designed to explore and address potentially catastrophic misuse of new technologies.
In regards to the unmoved position of the clock, the board blames global warming, rising tensions between the western nations and Russia and the tumultuous conflicts that are rocking the Middle East.
While the board acknowledges there have been some breakthroughs including the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris agreement to limit the amount of harmful carbon dioxide from entering the Earth's atmosphere.
Sadly the board concluded that these were nothing more than "small bright spots in a darker world situation full of potential for catastrophe."