PALO ALTO, Calif. – Scientists behind a “Doomsday Clock” that measures the likelihood of a global cataclysm announced Tuesday that the clock is to remain at three minutes to midnight.
The metaphorical clock reflects how vulnerable the world is to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change and new technologies.
California Gov. Jerry Brown joined former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and former U.S. Secretary of Defence William Perry for a discussion at Stanford University after the unveiling.
The scientists behind the bulletin adjusted the clock from five minutes-to-midnight to three minutes-to-midnight last year, citing climate change, modernization of nuclear weapons and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals.
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The clock is assessed each year and has also previously been adjusted in the opposite direction, most recently in 2010 when bulletin scientists cited nuclear talks between the U.S. and Russia and progress toward addressing climate change.
Key years in “Doomsday Clock” time
1953 – The clock comes the closest it ever has to midnight – just two minutes away – after the U.S. and Soviet Union test hydrogen bombs. “The hands of the Clock of Doom have moved again,” the Bulletin announces. “Only a few more swings of the pendulum, and, from Moscow to Chicago, atomic explosions will strike midnight for Western civilization.”
1981 – The clock moves to four minutes-to-midnight after the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan and U.S. President Jimmy Carter pulls the U.S. from the Olympics in Moscow.
1991 – The clock drops to 17 minutes-to-midnight as the Cold War officially ends and the U.S. and Russia begin making deep cuts to their nuclear arsenals. “The illusion that tens of thousands of nuclear weapons are a guarantor of national security has been stripped away,” the Bulletin says.
1998- The clock moves to nine minutes-to-midnight after India and Pakistan stage nuclear weapons tests.
2015 – The clock moves to three minutes-to-midnight. The bulletin cites “unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals” that pose “extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity.”
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© 2016 The Associated Press