January 11, 2012  

Doomsday Clock Moves 1 Minute Closer To Midnight

Faced with inadequate progress on nuclear weapons reduction and proliferation, and continuing inaction on climate change, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS), at a symposium in Washington, DC supported by Carnegie Corporation of New York, announced that it has moved the hands of its famous "Doomsday Clock" to five minutes to midnight. 

The last time the Doomsday Clock minute hand moved was in January 2010, when the Clock's minute hand was pushed back one minute from five to six minutes before midnight. 

Read coverage in: TIME, USA Today, Washington Post, Voice of America, Christian Science Monitor and Daily Mail.  

"Read Nuclear Doomsday: Is the Clock Still Ticking?" in The Carnegie Reporter Fall 2006

In a formal statement issued at the time of the January 10 announcement, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists noted: "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." 

BAS noted that other key recommendations for a safer world have not been taken up and require urgent attention, including: 

• Ratification by the United States and China of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and progress on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty;
• Implementing multinational management of the civilian nuclear energy fuel cycle with strict standards for safety, security, and nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, including eliminating reprocessing for plutonium separation;
• Strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency's capacity to oversee nuclear materials, technology development, and its transfer;
• Adopting and fulfilling climate change agreements to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through tax incentives, harmonized domestic regulation and practice;
• Transforming the coal power sector of the world economy to retire older plants and to require in new plants the capture and storage of the CO2 they produce; and
• Vastly increasing public and private investments in alternatives to carbon emitting energy sources, such as solar and wind, and in technologies for energy storage, and sharing the results worldwide.

Click here for a full copy of the BAS statement about the Doomsday Clock. 

How The Doomsday Clock Decision Was Made
The Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, with participation from the Sponsors, reviewed the implications of recent events and trends for the future of humanity with input from other experts on nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, climate change, and biosecurity. 

Questions addressed included: What is the future of nuclear power after Fukushima?; How are nuclear weapons to be managed in a world of increasing economic, political, and environmental volatility?; What are the links among climate change, resource scarcity, conflict, and nuclear weapons?; and, What is required for robust implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention? 

Click here for the full program for the January 9th symposium. 

About The Bulletin Of Atomic Scientists
Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists subsequently created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 using  the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero), to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The decision to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made by the Bulletin's Board of Directors in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences.