Is the end of the world nigh? Atomic scientists set to make ‘major announcement’ about Doomsday Clock

  • Symbolic clock was established by Manhattan Project scientists in 1947
  • It’s designed to show how close civilisation is to facing global catastrophe
  • Scientists track threats by monitoring nuclear weapons and climate change
  • The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) will host a live international news conference to make a ‘major announcement’ on Thursday
  • Expected to reveal the board’s decision regarding the clock’s minute hand
  • Last time, Doomsday Clock minute hand moved was in January 2012, when it was pushed ahead one minute from six to five minutes before midnight
  • Nuclear modernisation, climate change reports and terrorism could feature

The conference will begin at 4pm GMT (11am EST) on 22 January 2015.

THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK: TIMELINE OF HUMANITY’S DANCE WITH DISASTER

2012: FIVE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT

  • Difficulty in ridding the world of nuclear weapons and harness nuclear power
  • Potential for nuclear weapons use in regional conflicts in the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and South Asia described as alarming
  • Difficulty dealing with climate disruptions from global warming

2010:SIX MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT

  • Belief that civilisation is moving closer to being free of nuclear weapons.
  • Talks between Washington and Moscow for a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty are nearly complete, and more negotiations for further reductions in the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenal are already planned.
  • Dangers posed by climate change are growing, but ‘there are pockets of progress’. Most notably, at Copenhagen, the developing and industrialized countries agree to take responsibility for carbon emissions

2007: FIVE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT

  • World described to be at the ‘brink of a second nuclear age’
  • The United States and Russia remain ready to stage a nuclear attack within minutes, North Korea conducts a nuclear test, and many in the international community worry that Iran plans to acquire the Bomb.
  • Climate change also presents a dire challenge to humanity.
  • Damage to ecosystems is already taking place; flooding, destructive storms, increased drought, and polar ice melt are causing loss of life and property.

2002: SEVEN MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT

  • Concerns regarding a nuclear terrorist attack underscore enormous amount of unsecured -and sometimes unaccounted for – weapon-grade nuclear materials
  • US expresses a desire to design new nuclear weapons

1998: NINE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT

  • India and Pakistan stage nuclear weapons tests only three weeks apart
  • Russia and the United States ‘continue to serve as poor examples to the rest of the world’
  • Together, they still maintain 7,000 warheads ready to fire at each other within 15 minutes

1995: 14 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT

  • Hopes for a large post-Cold War peace and a renouncing of nuclear weapons fade
  • More than 40,000 nuclear weapons remain worldwide
  • Concern that terrorists could exploit poorly secured nuclear facilities in the former Soviet Union

1991: 17 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT

  • Cold War is officially over and the US and Russia begin making cuts to their nuclear arsenals

Full article: Is the end of the world nigh? Atomic scientists set to make ‘major announcement’ about Doomsday Clock (Daily Mail)

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