Symbolic ‘Doomsday Clock’ Now One Minute Closer To Nuclear Crisis

The Doomsday Clock
The Doomsday Clock as it stood before Jan. 10, 2012.

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The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) made the move yesterday, with the symbolic clock ticking forward from 11:54 p.m. to 11:55 p.m. The BAS cited a lack of progress in reducing nuclear stockpiles and proliferation, continued idleness on climate change, and the increasing scarcity of natural resources as reasons for the change.

Here is an excerpt from the BAS’ formal statement:

It is five minutes to midnight. Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed. For that reason, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving the clock hand one minute closer to midnight, back to its time in 2007.”

The clock has been maintained by the BAS at the University of Chicago since 1947. At it’s inception, the clock was introduced at 7 minutes to midnight to reflect growing public anxiety over nuclear weapons.

In 1953, it reached 11:58 p.m., its closest ever approach to doomsday, after the United States and the Soviet Union tested thermonuclear bombs within 9 months of one another.

With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the clock was wound back to 11:43 p.m., its earliest ever time. 

In 2007, the clock was moved forward to 11:55 p.m. to reflect growing instability, and for the first time, climate change. Two years ago, the clock ticked back to 11:54 p.m., with the BAS citing cooperation among governments to reduce nuclear stockpiles and limit the effects of climate change. That’s where it stood until yesterday’s announcement.

Here is a video of the announcement, courtesy of the AP via YouTube: