The Doomsday Clock: 100 seconds to midnight

Day 28The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947, due to the concerns of the physics community after World War II. The clock indicates how near we are to a humanity-ending catastrophe.

“Many scientists and engineers had taken part in the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bombs that the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Just a few months after the war finished, two University of Chicago physicists – Eugene Rabinowitch and Hyman Goldsmith – launched the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. This journal aimed to encourage scientists to engage in political issues. The war had made it painfully clear that even theoretical physics is no longer an abstract intellectual exercise, somehow divorced from the real-world. Part of the journal’s remit was to consider future dangers. It was a desire to communicate these risks to the public that led to the Doomsday Clock.” – Physics World

The clock has fluctuated over the years. Some years it has nudged closer to midnight, while other years it has moved away. Last year it was the closest to midnight than it has ever been in history, just a mere 100 seconds (and that was before the pandemic swept over the world). The year before, it was set at 2 minutes to midnight.

“Today, the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board sets the clock. This group of 18 experts, with diverse backgrounds ranging from policy and diplomacy to military history and nuclear science, meets twice a year to discuss events, policies and trends. They consult widely with their colleagues across a range of disciplines and also seek the views of the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, which includes multiple Nobel laureates. Each year, the clock’s position is announced in late January. The Bulletin currently recognizes three major threats to civilization: climate change, nuclear proliferation and “disruptive technologies,”including bio- and cybersecurity. “Each of these threats has the potential to destroy civilization and render the Earth largely uninhabitable by human beings,” it says.” – University of Chicago

Picture compliments of Eva Hambach/AFP via Getty Images

Yesterday, the hands of the clock remained the same. We stayed at 100 seconds to midnight. Major contributors to us remaining close to humanity-ending catastrophe were COVID-19, rampant spread of misinformation on the internet, and the increase threat of nuclear weapons and climate change. The main factor that kept us from moving even closer to midnight was having a new president “who acknowledges climate change as a profound threat and supports international cooperation and science-based policy which puts the world on a better footing to address global problems.”

The Doomsday Clock was not created to strike fear into people, but instead to push people into action. Once we realize that we can all make a difference, we just might be able to take a few ticks off the clock.

To read the entire 2021 Doomsday Clock Statement, click HERE.

Tomorrow, a great option for your old paint.

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