The Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced this Tuesday, January 26th, 2016, that the Doomsday Clock remains at three minutes to midnight, getting closer to a global disaster.

The doomsday clock was created in 1947 by Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer in order to inform civilians about the dangers of nuclear weapons. In its creation, it was also born the metaphor or analogy of midnight meaning a possible global catastrophe.

Originally, it only referred to nuclear war or disaster, but nowadays, since 2007, it also refers to climate change or anything that could potentially harm or threat humanity. The clock is hanging on a wall of the Bulletin’s office at the University of Chicago and scientists believe that the closer it is set to midnight, the closer the world gets to a global disaster.

Lawrence Krauss unveils the "Doomsday Clock" Tuesday, showing that the world is now three minutes away from catastrophe. Credit: CNN
Lawrence Krauss unveils the “Doomsday Clock” Tuesday, showing that the world is now three minutes away from catastrophe. Credit: CNN

In January 2015, the clock was set from five minutes to three minutes due to climate changes, nuclear weapon modernizations and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals. The most recent announcement said that in 2016, the setting remained the same: three minutes to midnight (23:57).

Over the past years, the world has had developed positively in various subjects, such as the Iranian nuclear deal and the Paris climate accords. However, the doomsday clock is even closer to midnight than it has been since the peak of Cold War hostilities, according to an article published at the Center for International Security of Cooperation (CISAC) of Stanford.

“The danger of a nuclear catastrophe today, in my judgment, is greater than it was during the Cold War…and yet our policies simply do not reflect those dangers,” said William J. Perry, who is a former U.S. Secretary of Defense and a faculty member at CISAC.

The decision of remaining the three minutes to midnight setting the same was not easy to make nor means good news. It means progresses in the world are moving slowly or change still need to be made. It also means that leaders are failing on their efforts to do so and the world’s attention is focusing on something less important than the potential danger of nuclear weapons or climate change to humanity.

The clock has only moved 22 times since it was created 69 years ago. It can move back and forward and it has never moved past two minutes to midnight (23:58) when the Soviets performed hydrogen bomb tests. It is of huge importance to educate people about these issues.

“If you can get ten people interested in talking about this problem, and each of those ten can get ten people interested in talking about this problem, it builds up in a geometric progression,” Perry said.“I think once the public understands the dangers, they will galvanize our Congress and our leaders into action.”

Probably no one wants to find out what would happen if the clock actually reaches midnight.

 Source: Standford Center for International Security and Cooperation