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At the beginning of the Atomic Age, leading scientists wanted a way to illustrate to world leaders and the general public how close we were to an all-out apocalypse.
They invented the Doomsday Clock, which would move closer to midnight when threats and tension rose in the world.
Today, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the clock to two-and-a-half minutes away from midnight.
So, 150 seconds to death? Better finish reading this fast and say your farewells.
OK. It doesn’t work exactly like that. It’s more of a metaphor, but it is a stark one. This is the closest scientists say we have been to cataclysmic strife since we invented hydrogen bombs.
In announcing their decision, they cited the reason you may think: “The board’s decision to move the clock less than a full minute reflects a simple reality: As this statement is issued, Donald Trump has been the US president only a matter of days.”
The clock hadn’t moved closer to midnight in two years, the implication being that, in less than a week, well, you know. Things have changed. But it wasn’t just that.
“A rise in strident nationalism worldwide, President Donald Trump’s comments on nuclear arms and climate issues, a darkening global security landscape that is colored by increasingly sophisticated technology, and a growing disregard for scientific expertise” were all listed as a reason for moving the clock.
When the clock was first introduced in 1947, we were considered to be seven minutes from midnight.
As a society, we’ve never moved further away from midnight than 17 minutes, which came after the Soviet Union collapsed.
You can read the Bulletin’s full statement here.
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]