The world is 30 seconds closer to destruction, experts announced today at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ annual “Doomsday Clock” event. For the past two years, we’ve hovered at three minutes to “midnight” – a metaphor to warn the public about how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making. According to experts, we now are just two minutes and 30 seconds away.
“Over the course of 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanity’s most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change,” the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board said in a statement.
Each year, placement of the “Doomsday Clock” minute hand is determined by the Bulletin’s expert analysis of how close the world is to destruction. Historically, the clock was altered primarily according to the dangers posed by nuclear weapons, and the closest we ever came to “midnight” was in 1953 after the United States and the Soviet Union tested their first nuclear weapons within six months of each other. In 1960, it was set back from two to seven minutes before midnight, and it has moved back and forth between 17 and three minutes to midnight ever since. More recently, it has been adapted to consider threats from other manmade dangers as well, such as cyber threats, biotechnology and climate change.