iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The minute hand of the Doomsday Clock, which indicates how close the world’s leading scientists think we are from destroying the planet, has moved forward to two and a half minutes to midnight, scientists announced Thursday in Washington, D.C.
Midnight on the clock represents doomsday. The closer the minute hand is to midnight, the higher the chance of a global cataclysm, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the group that sets the time on the symbolic clock.
The clock’s minute hand is assessed each year, and the clock’s time “conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making,” the Bulletin said on its website.
The Bulletin’s science and security board decided to advance the clock “in part based on the words of a single person: Donald Trump, the new president of the United States,” it said in a news release Thursday.
The board called Trump’s comments about expanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal and his disbelief in climate change “disturbing” and said his “statements and his actions as president-elect have broken with historical precedent in unsettling ways.”
“In short, even though he has just now taken office, the president’s intemperate statements, lack of openness to expert advice and questionable Cabinet nominations have already made a bad international security situation worse,” the board said.
Apart from Trump, the Bulletin said it also considered factors such as “strident nationalism worldwide … a darkening global security landscape that is colored by increasingly sophisticated technology and a growing disregard for scientific expertise.”
Last year, the scientists announced the clock remained at three minutes to midnight because of climate change and “extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity” by the modernization of nuclear weapon arsenals.
In 2015, the clock was moved to three minutes to midnight, from its place at five minutes to midnight in 2014.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons under the Manhattan Project. The scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later as an expression of concern about the use of those weapons.
The decision to move the clock’s time is made by the group’s science and security board, in consultation with its board of sponsors, which includes 15 Nobel laureates.
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