Scientists behind the Doomsday Clock announced on Thursday that it moved 30 seconds closer to midnight. Reportedly, the clock advances each time the probability of global disasters increases due to human action.

Currently, the clock is just two-and-a-half minutes to midnight, being the closest it has ever been since the beginning of the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race.

Doomsday Clock moves 30 seconds closer to "midnight" after Donald Trump became President of the United States. Image credit: EPA / The Sun
Doomsday Clock moves 30 seconds closer to “midnight” after Donald Trump became President of the United States. Image credit: EPA / The Sun

The Final Countdown

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is the organization that manipulates the Doomsday Clock, and the most prominent factors that force them to move it forward is the threat of a nuclear war. Currently, there appears to be a more lenient approach to nuclear weapons, seeing that neither the U.S. nor Russia have completely given up their arsenal. There’s also North Korea, whose deficient yet dangerous nuclear tests pose a great danger to the stability and peace of the whole hemisphere.

As implied, the clock moved forward thanks to Donald Trump becoming the President of the United States. Amid his presidential campaign, he stressed the need for the U.S. to renew its nuclear arsenal, arguing that the world is still to comprehend what having such destructive weapons means.

“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” tweeted the President on December 22.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists claims that the increase of global temperature alongside the “industrial-scale burning” of fossil fuels will most assuredly change the way life develops on Earth unless something changed along the way. To date, Donald Trump’s administration has been all but receptive concerning working for the conservation of global temperature.

Due to this, the Bulletin was urgent in deliberating how the clock stood as of January 26, as they perceive that world leaders have not done enough to work to solve the issues that could drive us to a catastrophe.

Image credit: The Japan Times
Image credit: The Japan Times

The nuclear scientists behind the Doomsday Clock

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 after the bulletin’s foundation two years earlier. Its founders were the same scientists from the University of Chicago that helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, which eventually resulted in the nuclear attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The decision to move or not the minute hand of the clock takes place every year as the Bulletin consults its sponsors, which includes 15 Nobel Prize laureates.

One of the most critical factors is that the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock was moved forward less than a full minute, being the first time this occurs. The reason behind this is that Trump has been president for just a few days and, even if his cabinet nominations are yet to be approved by the Senate, his campaign showed an intention of disputing the basics of climate science. This indicates that the President lacks “openness to expert advice” and that the following years the clock is more than likely to be near midnight.


Russia also appears to be building new types of missiles, nuclear ballistic missile submarines, and rail-mobile missiles. Also, according to the Bulletin, China is supporting Pakistan as it builds submarine missile platforms, and both Pakistan and India are expanding and sophisticating their nuclear arsenals.

Furthermore, Trump also suggested that Japan and South Korea should get their own nuclear weapons so they can compete with North Korea. In response, countries in the United Nations voted to try and ban nuclear weapons, but the resolution still needs to include the countries that possess the weapons.

One of the achievements of the Obama administration was making a deal with Iran to slow its nuclear potential, but the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has also put it into question, seeing that Trump himself has announced his intentions of undoing everything that Obama accomplished.

Global warming and nuclear weapons spell ‘doom’

The Bulletin also commented the need for climate action, quoting the Paris Agreement that came into effect late last year. The members of the organization argue that net carbon dioxide emissions must eventually be put on a path to reach zero to achieve any success in dealing with global warming. The longer it takes to implement these solutions, the more severe the consequences will be for us and future generations, as the Bulletin warns.

“Climate change should not be a partisan political issue. The well-established physics of Earth’s carbon cycle is neither liberal nor conservative in character. The planet will continue to warm to dangerous levels so long as carbon dioxide continues to be pumped into the atmosphere— regardless of who is chosen to lead the United States or any other country,” reads the 2017 Doomsday Clock Statement.

Back in 2010, the clock was at 6 minutes to midnight, seeing that the U.S. and Russia held talks to follow the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which included the reduction of their nuclear arsenal. It was in this year that Obama became the first U.S. president to call publicly for a nuclear-weapon-free world. Now, the Bulletin informs that the probability of a global catastrophe is “very high,” and that actions to reduce the risks must be taken very soon.

Source: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists