It's 2 (and a half) Minutes to Midnight now.
On Thursday, the group of scientists who orchestrate the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic instrument informing the public when the earth is facing imminent disaster, moved its minute hand to two and a half minutes before the final hour. It was the closest the clock had been to midnight since 1953, the year after the United States and the Soviet Union conducted competing tests of the hydrogen bomb. […]
The movement of its symbolic hands is decided upon by the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. […] “We’re so concerned about the rhetoric, and the lack of respect for expertise, that we moved it 30 seconds,” she said. “Rather than create panic, we’re hoping that this drives action.”
This year’s Clock deliberations felt more urgent than usual. On the big topics that concern the board, world leaders made too little progress in the face of continuing turbulence. In addition to the existential threats posed by nuclear weapons and climate change, new global realities emerged, as trusted sources of information came under attack, fake news was on the rise, and words were used in cavalier and often reckless ways.
As if to prove that words matter and fake news is dangerous, Pakistan’s foreign minister issued a blustery statement, a tweet actually, flexing Pakistan’s nuclear muscle—in response to a
fabricated “news” story about Israel. Today’s complex global environment is in need of deliberate and considered policy responses. It is ever more important that senior leaders across the
globe calm rather than stoke tensions that could lead to war, either by accident or miscalculation.