The Doomsday Clock remains at three minutes to midnight, but the world is a darker place.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on Wednesday (NZ time) announced an update on on the metaphorical clock in Washington DC that reflects how vulnerable the world is to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change and new technologies.
When the time of three minutes to midnight was set in a meeting last year, it became the closest to oblivion that humanity has ever been.
The Doomsday Clock is a relic of the past that has no meaning today.
Up until 1990 when the world did face a real threat of global nuclear war, the Doomsday Clock was a useful indicator of how precarious things were. A global nuclear war could wipe out humanity.
But there is very very little possibility of a global nuclear war today. So to try and remain relevant they include climate change, which does indeed pose challenges, but is not an existential threat (unless you regard it in the same way as the sun dying one day is an existential threat.
“Three minutes (to midnight) is too close,” a statement said. “Far too close. We, the members of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, want to be clear about our decision not to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock in 2016: That decision is not good news, but an expression of dismay that world leaders continue to fail to focus their efforts and the world’s attention on reducing the extreme danger posed by nuclear weapons and climate change. When we call these dangers existential, that is exactly what we mean: They threaten the very existence of civilisation and therefore should be the first order of business for leaders who care about their constituents and their countries.”
The Paris Climate Summit and Iranian nuclear agreement were good news, but “constitute only small bright spots in a darker world situation full of potential for catastrophe”.
Well if that is not enough to turn the lock back, then probably nothing is.
My prediction is that they are so wedded to their doom mongering that they will never ever turn the clock back from three minutes to midnight. And inevitably they will find some excuse to turn it forward until it is on midnight, and then people will realise its just a meaningless stunt.