The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is keeping the Doomsday Clock set at two minutes to midnight — a metaphor for the end of the world — calling the threats against humankind “a new abnormal.”
The scientists announced that the clock is stuck at 11:58, citing nuclear weapons and climate change as two existential risks that leave the world dangerously close to an apocalypse. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown and former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry unveiled the Doomsday Clock on behalf of the organization during a news conference on Jan. 24, 2019, in Washington, D.C.
Two minutes to midnight is as close to the symbolic point of annihilation that the iconic Clock has been since 1953 at the height of the Cold War. The decision announced to keep the Doomsday Clock at two minutes before midnight was made by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board in consultation with the Board of Sponsors, which includes 14 Nobel Laureates.
A new abnormal: It is still two minutes to midnight. Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention. These major threats—nuclear weapons and climate change—were exacerbated this past year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilization in extraordinary danger… The ‘new abnormal’ that we describe, and that the world now inhabits, is unsustainable and extremely dangerous. The world security situation can be improved, if leaders seek change and citizens demand it. It is 2 minutes to midnight, but there is no reason the Doomsday Clock cannot move away from catastrophe. It has done so in the past, because wise leaders acted—under pressure from informed and engaged citizens around the world. – Statement from Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Former US Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, chair, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Board of Sponsors, said: “The current international security situation—what we call the ‘new abnormal’—has extended over two years now. It’s a state as worrisome as the most dangerous times of the Cold War, a state that features a constantly shifting landscape of simmering disputes that keep the world unsettled and multiply the chances that major military conflict will erupt. Brash leaders, intense diplomatic disputes, and regional instabilities combine to create an international context in which nuclear dangers are all too real.”