Warning that the danger of nuclear war has become more “dire” than at any time since the Cold War, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists just moved the hands of its iconic Doomsday Clock to two minutes before midnight. This is the closest the hands have been to an apocalyptic assault on human survival and civilization in the clock’s 71-year history.
Since 1947, the clock has sought to awaken humanity to the imminent danger of catastrophic nuclear war. The additional existential dangers of climate change, new developments in the life sciences and technology were more recently added to their calculus.
Explaining their decision, the Bulletin’s scientists, who had moved the clock hands to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight shortly after President Trump assumed office, concentrated on the rising danger of nuclear war. With frequent references to the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, they decried: the United States’ increased reliance on nuclear weapons; its staggering investments in new nuclear weapons which are driving the “modernization” of the world’s eight other nuclear arsenals; the return to Cold War rhetoric and total absence of US-Russian arms control negotiations; the lack of coherent US foreign and military policies which undermines global security and increase the risk of nuclear war; North Korea’s nuclear weapons program; South Asian rivalries; and Trump’s threat to the nuclear deal with Iran.
Secondarily, the scientists also heightened the alarm over the existential dangers of climate change and the political and media-driven loss of trust in institutions, which in turn further undermines the…