Monday, January 27, 2020

The Doomsday Clock Reset

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

We are in humanity's moment of greatest peril.  

With these words Ban Ki-Moon (former UN Secretary General), Mary Robinson (former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner on Human Rights), Jerry Brown (former Governor of California and now Executive Chair of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists), and William J. Perry (former US Secretary of Defense and now Chair of the the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists) opened their statement in a CNN Op-Ed January 23, 2020 to mark a new setting of the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight. 

This is the closest the clock has been set to Doomsday since it was first created in 1947.

The full statement is long and describes in detail the three main reasons for the clock being set this close to midnight as well thoughtful suggestions on how world leaders should respond. I encapsulate them below. Warning: my summaries are not enough; the details are important.


--A retreat from arms control creates a dangerous nuclear reality

--An insufficient response to an increasingly threatened climate

--The increased threat of information warfare and other disruptive technologies

How the World Should Respond 

--US and Russian leaders can return to the negotiating table to control nuclear arms (includes treaties) and start talks on cyber warfare, missile defenses, the militarization of space, hypersonic technology, and the elimination of battlefield nuclear weapons.

--The countries of the world should publicly rededicate themselves to the temperature goal of the Paris climate agreement, which is restricting warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius higher than the preindustrial level. 

--The United States and other signatories of the Iran nuclear deal can work together to restrain nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.

--The international community should begin multilateral discussions aimed at establishing norms of behavior, both domestic and international, that discourage and penalize the misuse of science (includes the blurring of fact and fiction). 

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded by the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project during WW II which led to the creation of the first atomic bomb.  This link includes an interactive with two timelines: the clock shifts and culture & the clock.  Here is another timeline with some details which begins from the present to the first setting, 1947 when the clock was set at 7 minutes to midnight. The minute hand has been set 24 times since then.

No comments:

Post a Comment