Why The Doomsday Clock Puts World Risk At 65-year High

Why The Doomsday Clock Puts World Risk At 65-year High

The Doomsday Clock, a measure by scientists of the risk to global survival, now says the danger is the greatest since 1953.

The Doomsday Clock, which judges the threat to world peace and the environment, has advanced significantly, with nuclear weapons and climate change held largely responsible.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the symbolic Clock forward by 30 seconds, to two minutes to midnight, reflecting the scientists’ view of the main global dangers. They say much of the blame rests with the administration of President Donald Trump.

The only other time the clock, revised annually, has been set so close to catastrophe was 65 iears ago, in 1953, after the US and the Soviet Union exploded their first thermonuclear bombs.

Rachel Bronson, the bulletin’s president and CEO, said in a statement: “Major nuclear actors are on the cusp of a new arms race, one that will be very expensive and will increase the likelihood of accidents and misperceptions.

Weapons more usable

“Across the globe, nuclear weapons are poised to become more rather than less usable because of nations’ investments in their nuclear arsenals.”

The Center for Climate & Security (CCS) is a US non-partisan policy institute of security and military experts. In November 2017 it said climate change and nuclear threats are closely linked and must be tackled together.

The bulletin’s authors, from its science and security board, say they are disturbed by the rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, the increasing emphasis and expenditure on nuclear weapons by major powers, the absence of arms control negotiations around the world, and the wavering political will to combat climate change.

They repeatedly single out the Trump administration as a major factor behind the increased risks, citing what they describe as the president’s volatility; the inconsistency of the administration’s foreign policy; and its apparent disdain for science, including senior appointments of climate change deniers.

“The White House office of science and technology policy is essentially not staffed. The official mechanisms to tie public policy to reality are currently absent”

One board member, Sharon Squassoni, of George Washington University’s Institute for International Science and Technology Policy, said Russia was also responsible for raising tensions, for example by deploying ground-launched cruise missiles in 2017 in breach of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

Some experts argue that a comparison with the height of the cold war exaggerates the current dangers, and not all agree that the global risks of nuclear weapons are as severe now as they were then. Vipin Narang, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tweeted: “Today, the risk of single use may be higher, but it’s unlikely to threaten global destruction.”

On climate change, the bulletin scientists say it is worsening: after flattening out for some years, global greenhouse gas emissions have resumed their rise, and the levels of the polar ice caps are at new lows.

They say the administration is making “an insufficient response” to climate change and is turning its back on reality: “In its rush to dismantle rational climate and energy policy, the administration has ignored scientific fact and well-founded economic analyses.

Heartening response

“Here in the US, the incoming President Trump promptly appointed a cadre of avowed climate denialists and quickly started reversing existing climate measures,” said Sivan Kartha, a senior scientist at the Stockholm Environmental Institute. But he was encouraged by the global response to Mr Trump’s actions.

Thankfully, Dr Kartha said, the White House had met “a reassuring and affirming resistance…Other countries reaffirmed their commitment to climate action. And within the United States, there’s been this huge We Are Still In movement of states, cities, business, faith-based communities, reaffirming their commitment to climate action and global cooperation.”

President Trump was also criticised for downgrading the science in his administration. Lawrence Krauss, the chair of the bulletin’s board of sponsors, said that 2017 was the first year since the position was created more than half a century ago with no presidential science adviser.

“The White House office of science and technology policy is essentially not staffed,” Krauss said. “The official mechanisms to tie public policy to reality are currently absent.” – Climate News Network

About the Author

Alex Kirby is a British journalistAlex Kirby is a British journalist specializing in environmental issues. He worked in various capacities at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for nearly 20 years and left the BBC in 1998 to work as a freelance journalist. He also provides media skills training to companies, universities and NGOs. He is also currently the environmental correspondent for BBC News Online, and hosted BBC Radio 4's environment series, Costing the Earth. He also writes for The Guardian and Climate News Network. He also writes a regular column for BBC Wildlife magazine.

Related Books

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #1 Release Date 11/22/17 (OF 12) LENTICULAR VAR ED
Author: Geoff Johns
Binding: Comic
Publisher: DC comics
Offers - Buy New From: $6.99 Collectible From: $9.94
Buy Now

Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition
Author: Tom King
Binding: Hardcover
Publisher: DC Comics
List Price: $19.99
Offers - Buy New From: $8.96 Used From: $7.94 Collectible From: $12.99
Buy Now

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #1 (OF 12) FRANK VARIANT (Release Date 11/22/17)
Author: Geoff Johns
Binding: Comic
Publisher: DC COMICS
Offers - Buy New From: $14.38 Used From: $18.00
Buy Now



More Americans Agree On Going Green Than You Might Think
by Melissa De Witte
While the United States is deeply divided on many issues, there is remarkable consensus on climate change, according to…
The Political Split On Climate Change Isn’t So Wide After All
by Shelly Leachman
Just how far apart are Republicans and Democrats when it comes to views on climate change? Not all that far, a new…
We're Climate Researchers And Our Work Was Turned Into Fake News
by Michael Grubb, UCL
Science is slow. It rests on painstaking research with accumulating evidence. This makes for an inherently uneasy…
Here’s How Much Money The Mercer Family Donated To Climate Misinformation Groups In 2016
by Zahra Hirji, BuzzFeed
The Mercer family, among President Trump’s most powerful donors, in 2016 gave nearly $4 million to groups that…
Why The Doomsday Clock Puts World Risk At 65-year High
by Alex Kirby, Climate News Ntwork
The Doomsday Clock, a measure by scientists of the risk to global survival, now says the danger is the greatest since…
Why Trump Is Confused On The Climate’s Security Threat
by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network
The new US national defense strategy appears to leave President Trump in two minds on the risk from climate’s security…
People Report The Most Stress About This Climate Worry
by Alexis Blue-University of Arizona
While some people have little anxiety about the Earth’s changing climate, others are experiencing high levels of…
A Year Of Trump: How His Incendiary Style Took The Place Of Substance
by Clodagh Harrington, De Montfort University
Anyone looking for a visual representation of Donald Trump’s first year in office need only behold Time magazine’s…


How Geo-Engineered Crops May Help And Harm
by Tim Radford,Climate News Network
To cool the world and also boost plant growth, geo-engineered crops might do the trick. But if they work by dimming the…
Scientists Have Known Burning Coal Warms The Climate For A Long Time.
by Joe Romm, Think Progress
On August 14, 1912, a New Zealand newspaper’s “science notes and news” section ran a blurb headlined, “Coal consumption…
The Best Medicine for My Climate Grief
by Peter Kalmus
A climate scientist talks to a psychologist about coping with the crushing stress related to climate change. Here’s…
Climate Models Predict The World Will Be Anomalously Warm Until 2022
by Florian Sévellec
We developed a new prediction system we call PROCAST (PROabilistic foreCAST), and used it to predict the natural…
Holy Dog, It's "Hot As Spain!"
by Robert Jennings, InnerSelf.com
Now it's so hot in Europe that dogs are having to wear shoes. While a nice sunny day may seem like the perfect time for…
Why Forest Carbon Emissions Are Set To Grow
by Tim Radford, Climate News Network
The tropical forests could be at growing risk from climate change. And as they die, rising forest carbon emissions…
Is Climate Change Really To Blame For Slower Atlantic Circulation
by Hannah Hickey
Global warming isn’t the cause of slowdown in a huge circulation pattern in the Atlantic Ocean, which is, in fact, part…
Pantheism And How It Could Offer A New Approach To Preserving The Planet
by Tim Lomas
The scientists responsible for the “doomsday clock” moved it 30 seconds closer to midnight – the symbolic point of…