The Doomsday Clock: It is 6 minutes to Midnight

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have spoken and the verdict is: 1 minute of respite.

Launched in 1947 by scientists involved in the Manhattan Project, the Doomsday clock has only been changed 18 times since its inception. The last change occurred back in January of 2007, when it was moved 2 minutes forward from seven minutes to 5 minutes before midnight.

Today we stand 6 minutes away from catastrophic destruction.

During the announcement, panelists shared some hair-raising numbers:

- In a world where 1 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day and a child dies every 6 seconds, the world spends $1464 billion on military expenditures in a single year, $90 billion of which is spent on nuclear weapons programs.

- 9 countries have a total of 23,300 nuclear weapons.

- 8,393 of those are deployed on alert status.

- And using 0.03% of the weapons would cause catastrophic climate change.

The key concerns are nuclear proliferation and war, climate change, and biosecurity—though only the first two were referred to during the announcement. While we are still in a precarious state, it is believed that recent intentions by global leaders including restarting talks on arms reductions and securing fissile materials as well as globally addressing GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions are a move in the right direction. But this move is only indicative of a change in attitude and for a more substantial shift; we need to see action.

We are reminded of Einstein’s words, spoken 65 years ago, after the one and only time nuclear bombs were used in war; “Everything has changed, save the way we think.”

Here’s to hoping this minute back is truly a sign of a change in the way we are thinking.

For more information on the Bulletin of Atomic scientists and the Doomsday clock see here and here.

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