As time-pieces go, I’d rather have one made by Cartier. When it comes to accuracy though, I wouldn’t mind if this watch ran a little bit slow.
The Doomsday Clock is the hypothetical time-piece established in 1947 to graphically illustrate the risk we face of an eventual nuclear conflict. The clock actually sits at the University of Chicago (see photo) where the time perpetually lingers just shy of midnight. The Doomsday Clock almost struck at the top of the hour back in 1953 (theoretically we were about two minutes awayfrom total destruction and it was about 11:58pm) when tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union were at there worst due to both countries testing thermo-nuclear devices.
In 1991 — which experts say was the best of times — we were about 17 minutes away from the Doomsday Clock striking midnight — thanks to the superpowers agreeing to a reduction in nuclear arms.
Since then, the hands on the clock have swung both ways: at times closer, at times farther away. As we approached the New Year the Doomsday Clock was estimated at sitting about 7 minutes away from the Apocolypse. However, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (www.thebulletin.org) which keeps tabs on the clocks progress, just bumped the hands-of-catastrophy forward two minutes on Wednesday Jnuary 17th. So the now the Doomsday Clock is resting at about 5 minutes until the top of the hour.
According to an announcement by the Directors of the Bulletin, the latest move reflected a higher perceived risk of global nuclear Armageddon because of “…nuclear ambitions in Iran and North Korea, unsecured nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere, the continuing ‘launch-ready’ status of 2,000 of the 25,000 nuclear weapons held by the U.S. and Russia, escalating terrorism, and new pressure from climate change for expanded civilian nuclear power that could increase proliferation risks…”
Armageddononline.org points out that the custodians of this clock have been the men and women of the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The Bulletin is a publication which was founded in 1945 by many former Manhattan Project physicists, and over the years contributors have included Albert Einstein, Edward Teller, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Carl Sagan, Wernher von Braun, Al Gore, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke to name but a few.
What influences hands of the clock? With both Iran and Korea itching to press forward with their own respective nuclear arms programs and with the common knowledge that for about 5 million dollars any terrorist group could get their hands on a nuclear missile (according to The American Association for the Advancement of Science) a lot of people inside Washington’s biggest think tanks are considering the US and the world to be on the brink of a second nuclear age.
Climate change also presents a dire challenge to humanity and can move the hands of the clock forward. Damage to ecosystems is already taking place; flooding, destructive storms, increased drought, and polar ice melt are causing loss of life and property. All ticking away precious seconds of our existence.