As mild as this winter has been so far, sometimes all I feel like doing is curl up in bed with a pile of one thousand and one comforters and figuratively await the end of the world, safe in the knowledge that I wouldn't ever have to get out of bed and face Mother Nature in all her cold, cruel glory. Alas, that is but a dream — one that I wouldn't actually want come true, anyway — but the more morbid of us can perhaps look to Tuesday's press conference in Washington D.C., when scientists moved the Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight, citing rampant climate change and the enduring threat of nuclear weapons. Yikes.
Kennette Benedict, the executive director and publisher of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a magazine that focuses on issues related to the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, told those at the conference:
It is now three minutes to midnight. The probability of global catastrophe is very high. This is about the end of civilization as we know it.
Geez, talk about bleak. The Doomsday Clock, since its debut in 1947, has come to symbolize the dangers that Earth faces. The trans-Atlantic group of scientists — which includes 17 Nobel laureates — analyzes every year the threats present in the world to decide if the minute hand should move, and if so, how much. The closer it is to midnight, the more dire Earth's existence is.
In a statement the organization put out, it declared:
In 2015, unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity. [W]orld leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.
According to the statement, the last time they moved the minute hand moved was in 2012, pushed one minute ahead because of concerns over nuclear weapons, the Fukushima meltdown and the bird flu that sent everyone into a frenzy, to signal five minutes before midnight. The last time the Doomsday Clock read three minutes to midnight, though, was in 1984 during the Cold War. The closest it has come to midnight is two minutes away, when the hydrogen bomb was tested in 1953.
Speaking to CNBC, the Bulletin's editor-in-chief, John Mecklin, said that the moving of hands was a serious warning to the international community that there were critical issues that needed to be addressed. He told the news agency:
These are the problems you cannot ignore. There are certain types of problems that, while troubling, are not a threat to humanity's survival. That is not what we have here. If you don't address nuclear and climate problems, eventually civilization will be threatened.
These are top scientists, they don't move the hands of the doomsday clock easily or lightly," he said. "The fact that they moved it two minutes closer means that they see a real danger a real need to act now.
Looks like it's time to stock up on supplies, guys, for the next few years of preparation to hunker down in your fallout shelter.
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