Doomsday Clock Closest to Apocalyptic Midnight Since 1953

 Alexa Lardieri

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the second hand on its symbolic "Doomsday Clock" closer to midnight, indicating the world is as close as it's ever been to an apocalypse, the organization announced on its website Thursday.

"In 2017, world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago — and as dangerous as it has been since World War II," a statement on the Bulletin's website said.

The clock moved from three minutes until the symbolic time of midnight to two and a half minutes in 2017.

Now, at two minutes, it is the closest it's been to midnight since 1953, amid a nuclear weapons race between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

The Bulletin was founded in 1945 by scientists involved in the Manhattan Project. According to its website, a decision on whether to adjust the Doomsday Clock's minute hand is made each year by the Bulletin's Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 15 Nobel laureates.

"Although the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists focuses on nuclear risk, climate change, and emerging technologies, the nuclear landscape takes center stage in this year's Clock statement," 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."

In its announcement, the Bulletin continually singled out President Donald Trump and his administration, highlighting "the downward spiral of nuclear rhetoric between" Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

It also highlighted the administration's posture toward climate change.

"Last year, the U.S. government pursued unwise and ineffectual policies on climate change, following through on a promise to derail past U.S. climate policies," the Bulletin's statement said. "The Trump administration, which includes avowed climate denialists in top positions at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, and other key agencies, has announced its plan to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. In its rush to dismantle rational climate and energy policy, the administration has ignored scientific fact and well-founded economic analyses."

The scientists and scholars involved also offered ways to rewind the Doomsday Clock, stating that Trump should refrain from "provocative rhetoric regarding North Korea" and that U.S. citizens should demand "climate action from their government."

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Alexa Lardieri
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