SECOND YEAR IN A ROW International

Doomsday Clock stuck near midnight

The Doomsday Clock, the symbolic countdown to humanity’s end, remained stuck on the brink of the apocalypse for a second year on Tuesday, because of the continued existential threats posed by nuclear war and climate change.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the group which created the clock in 1947, said it was keeping the clock hands set at three minutes to midnight — the closest the clock has come to destruction since the throes of the Cold War in 1984.

“The clock ticks now at just three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty,” the scientists said.

The ominous forecast was imposed despite two major diplomatic accomplishments last year: the Iranian nuclear deal and the historic Paris agreement to fight climate change.

“The decision not to move the hands of the clock in 2016 is not good news,” Lawrence Krauss, who chairs the Bulletin’s board of sponsors, said in announcing the new clock setting. The scientists, reinforced by former US cabinet secretaries William Perry and George Shultz, based their dire symbolic forecast on challenges of a global scale such as nuclear war and climate change.

But they also acknowledged the gathering threats posed to world order over the last year by the Islamic State and cyber warfare.

The scientists noted that the 11.57 p.m. setting was one of the worst since the clock’s inception. In 1991, when the threat of nuclear annihilation receded with the end of the cold war, the clock stood at 17 minutes to midnight.

In addition, the scientists said such progress was undermined by high tensions between the U.S. and Russia that are reminiscent of the Cold War. The U.S., India, China and Russia were spending $350 billion modernising their nuclear arsenals, and North Korea remained a nuclear risk.

In many ways, the world was a more dangerous place since the end of the Cold War, said Mr. Shultz who served as Reagan’s secretary of state in the 1980s. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2016

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 1:51:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Doomsday-Clock-stuck-near-midnight/article14022830.ece

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