What is known as the Doomsday Clock started back in 1945. It started out as a newsletter (not an actual clock ^^) with the purpose of informing people about the dangers and destruction that an atomic war could bring. It was published by the “Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago”. The newsletter later turned into a magazine in 1947 and was maintained by the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board. Artist Martyl Langsdorf designed the clock seen below, that was featured on the cover of the June 1947 and was on every cover until it ceased it printing in 2009 when it became one of the first print publications to become entirely digital in the U.S.
Since 2007 the Doomsday Clock has been used as a symbol to represent the following
- The threat of global nuclear war
- Climate change
- The likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe
- New developments in the live sciences and technology
which all could possibly inflict irrevocable harm to humanity.
The clock is always set to minutes before midnight (midnight is the representation of how close the world is to a global catastrophe). Its original setting in 1947 was seven minutes to midnight. It has been set backward and forward 22 times since. Below you can see a partial timeline or you can view all changes and reasons here. The longest time that it was set for was in 1991 at 17 minutes to midnight with the shortest being 2 minutes to midnight in 1953…… and NOW… 2018.
As of January 2018, the clock was changed to 2 minutes before midnight. The reason for this recent change is as quoted from The Bulletin website:
“The failure of world leaders to address the largest threats to humanity’s future is lamentable—but that failure can be reversed. It is two minutes to midnight, but the Doomsday Clock has ticked away from midnight in the past, and during the next year, the world can again move it further from apocalypse. The warning the Science and Security Board now sends is clear, the danger obvious and imminent. The opportunity to reduce the danger is equally clear. The world has seen the threat posed by the misuse of information technology and witnessed the vulnerability of democracies to disinformation. But there is a flip side to the abuse of social media. Leaders react when citizens insist they do so, and citizens around the world can use the power of the internet to improve the long-term prospects of their children and grandchildren. They can insist on facts, and discount nonsense. They can demand action to reduce the existential threat of nuclear war and unchecked climate change. They can seize the opportunity to make a safer and saner world. See the full statement from the Science and Security Board on the 2018 time of the Doomsday Clock.”
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