Climate change ticks Doomsday Clock closer to midnight

The risk of “global catastrophe” is apparently closer than ever now the hand of the Doomsday Clock now pointing at three minutes to midnight. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists which […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The risk of “global catastrophe” is apparently closer than ever now the hand of the Doomsday Clock now pointing at three minutes to midnight.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists which counts 17 Nobel Prize-winners on its board says it moved the hand today because of “unchecked” climate change and the stockpile of nuclear weapons.

The last time the Doomsday Clock was at three minutes to midnight was 1983, when “US-Soviet relations were at their iciest,” according to the Bulletin.

Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said: “Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernisation of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity. And world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe.”

Richard Somerville, a member of the BAS and a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California added: “We call upon world leaders to take coordinated and rapid action to drastically reduce global emissions of heat-trapping gases, especially carbon dioxide.”

What is the Doomsday Clock?

The Doomsday Clock is a metaphorical clock meant to flag up how close we are to impending doom – that is, man-made risks which threaten  humanity.

It was set up by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a group founded in 1945 by scientists and engineers who created the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project.

“They knew about the horrible effects of these new weapons and devoted themselves to warning the public about the consequences of using them,” says their website.

Any decision to move the hand is made by the Bulletin’s Board of Directors and a separate Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates.