Opinion: Doomsday Clock moves closer to the end

Charles Rankin

Every year in January, a group of scientists get together and discuss the possibility of the end of the world at the hands of mankind. 

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists look at the criteria of nuclear weapons, climate change, biotechnology and emerging technology and decide how close to the end of the world we as a society truly are. The minute-hand of a clock, closing in on midnight, is used to represent this just how close we are getting to the end. 

This year, the Bulletin moved the minute-hand 30 seconds closer, to two minutes till midnight. This is only the second time the Clock has moved this close to midnight, the first coming in 1953 after the United States and Soviet Union both tested hydrogen bombs. 

The Bulletin’s Science and Security Board opened its 2018 statement about the Doomsday Clock with an ominous, yet truthful tone. 

“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,” the Board said. 

As the report continued, the Board directly mentions the actions of leaders such as President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and the “hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions” of such leaders. 

When the Clock was first implemented, in 1947, the greatest threat to the existence of mankind was nuclear war brought on more than likely by the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Today however, many other threats appear to be looming. 

The Board’s statement made mention of climate change and the urgent attention we must place on getting global temperatures down. On this matter, the Board is absolutely right. We have failed, in the United States especially, to adequately address the problem of climate change, and the current political leaders are only making this problem much worse. The Board also rightfully addresses the issue of using technology, and the internet especially, as a weapon to democracy. The acts of Russia during various elections around the world, including the 2016 presidential election, are evidence of this. 

The Science and Security Board is right in its assertion that we, as a society, are the closest we have ever been to destroying ourselves. The Board is also right in the fact that this situation is of our own doing. Finally, the board is right in thinking that we are completely doomed. The statement ends with a bit of a ray of hope. 

“[The] current, extremely dangerous state of world affairs need not be permanent,” the statement says. 

Talks of peace on the Korean Peninsula are on the horizon. Efforts to combat climate change are ongoing and promising. Ordinary citizens are using the internet to combat oppressive regimes. Our society has the ability to turn back the Clock and the work to do so has already begun.