Scientists' Doomsday Clock Says We're 30 Seconds Closer To The End

Photographed by Julia Lola Wang.
Today the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists updated its long-running Doomsday Clock to say that we're now just two-and-a-half minutes away from midnight — a.k.a. the apocalypse. So, it is time for you to head to your super secret mountain bunker?

Obviously not, unless you plan to take the rest of us with you. The Bulletin originally introduced the Doomsday Clock back in 1947 in response to the growing threat of nuclear war. Today, the Bulletin's science and security board combines measures of the probability of nuclear war, biosecurity disasters, climate change, and various other doomsday scenarios, to set the clock closer or farther away from midnight. The fewer minutes left until midnight, the closer we are to the end of the world.

So it's clearly not a literal projection of the end of days, but more a conceptual approximation — and a reminder of the large-scale problems our world should spend time and effort solving.

This year is actually the 70th anniversary of the clock, and things are apparently at their bleakest in over two decades. We had the most time back in 1991 when there were a full 17 minutes until midnight. But things have also been worse: In 1953, in the midst of the Cold War nuclear weapons testing, we only had two minutes until the clock hit 12:00.

Last year we were sitting at three whole minutes until midnight, so why the sudden tick forward? It seems like it's down to the fact that we're facing some serious issues both nationally and globally, and the board isn't confident that Trump is the right person to tackle them.

"The board’s decision to move the clock less than a full minute — something it has never before done — reflects a simple reality: As this statement is issued, Donald Trump has been the US president only a matter of days," reads a statement from the board. "In short, even though he has just now taken office, the president’s intemperate statements, lack of openness to expert advice, and questionable cabinet nominations have already made a bad international security situation worse."

With the explosion of interest in the upcoming March for Science, it's clear these are certainly not the only scientists who are worried about the new administration's attitude towards facts — and no, we're not talking about the alternative kind.

Advertisement