What Will Happen To The Doomsday Clock?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: January 24, 2018

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Submitted: January 24, 2018

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What Will Happen To The Doomsday Clock?

 

The Doomsday Clock is maintained by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. It is a way of them setting out how close to a global catastrophe the planet is.

It was founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists who ‘could not remain aloof to the consequences of their work’ on building a nuclear bomb. Once created there was no way to ‘un-create it’ and so they established this to try to keep a check on it’s consequences.

The Doomsday Clock itself was first set to a time in 1947. Midnight on the clock is when it is assessed that things cannot possibly get any worse – armageddon or the apocalypse is either underway or imminent. At that time it was set at 7 minutes to midnight.

By the time it got to 1953, the worsening of relationships between the USA and Russia together with the hydrogen bomb, saw the clock being moved forward to 2 minutes to midnight, the closest it has been to that point to date.

It then moved backwards and forwards until the 1990’s where it varied between 7 and 17 minutes to that midnight hour. 17 minutes is the furthest it has yet to be set. In January 2015 it moved forward to 3 minutes, then for the last two years it has stood at 2.5 minutes to that dreaded hour, the closest since 1953.

It does only take in to account the likelihood of a Nuclear War breaking out, but that does play a significant part in their assessment. The number of Nuclear Weapons throughout the world and Nuclear Energy are both assessed; the amount of nuclear materials stored, how secure it is plus the number of warheads in known existence are all analysed and quantified.

Climate Change is another factor they take in to account, and they risks they currently pose to the planet. Changes in global temperatures, in the height of sea levels, the current extent of arctic ice and the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide are plotted to give an overall picture of the current climate.

Biosecurity is a more recent worry. Antimicrobial resistance to medication is a big concern, with the emergence of superbugs such as MRSA, CRE and VRE. The risks and likelihoods of pandemics are taken into account, along with the threat level of bioterrorism. Cyberthreats are assessed in what is becoming a more and more computerized world and the advances in robotics mean AI threats are also included in the assessment.

The clock will be set for 2018 on January 25th at 10am EST/ 3pm GMT. Will it remain at 2.5 minutes to midnight or will it get closer. Many experts are predicting that it will be set at closer to midnight than ever before. One thing’s for sure, we don’t have to wait much longer to find out.


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