The Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago has kept a Doomsday Clock since 1947, gauging how serious the degree of
The Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago has kept a Doomsday Clock since 1947, gauging how serious the degree of global nuclear, environmental and technological is. It has been as far back as 17 minutes to midnight in 1981 with the Soviet/US Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, and as close as 2 minutes to midnight in 1953, when the US and Soviets were actively testing thermonuclear devices within months of each other.
Since 2007, the Doomsday Clock has stood at 5 minutes before Midnight, a response not only to North Korea's testing of nuclear devices, but of the generalized fear of non-state players getting nuclear materials and of the lack of real policy to combat global climate change.
In a statement supporting the decision to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock, the BAS Board said: “It is 6 minutes to midnight. We are poised to bend the arc of history toward a world free of nuclear
weapons. For the first time since atomic bombs were dropped in 1945, leaders of nuclear weapons states are cooperating to vastly reduce their arsenals and secure all nuclear bomb-making material. And for the first time ever, industrialized and developing countries alike are pledging to limit climate-changing gas emissions that could render our planet nearly uninhabitable. These unprecedented steps are signs of a growing political will to tackle the two gravest threats to civilization -- the terror of nuclear weapons and runaway climate change.”[..]
“This hopeful state of world affairs leads the boards of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists — which include 19 Nobel laureates — to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock back from five to six minutes to midnight. By shifting the hand back from midnight by only one additional minute, we emphasize how much needs to be accomplished, while at the same time recognizing signs of collaboration among the United States, Russia, the European Union, India, China, Brazil, and others on nuclear security and on climate stabilization.”
“A key to the new era of cooperation is a change in the U.S. government’s orientation toward international affairs brought about in part by the election of Obama. With a more pragmatic, problem-solving approach, not only has Obama initiated new arms reduction talks with Russia, he has started negotiations with Iran to close its nuclear enrichment program, and directed the U.S. government to lead a global effort to secure loose fissile material in four years. He also presided over the U.N. Security Council last September where he supported a fissile material cutoff treaty and encouraged all countries to live up to their disarmament and nonproliferation obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty …”