The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has made its yearly assessment of the world. As it stands, it's decided to keep the Doomsday Clock set at three minutes to midnight. Global catastrophe is imminent.
“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,” the group wrote.
The scientists decided to move the clock's metaphorical hand forward last year — for the first time since 1984, during the Cold War. It's meant to signal how close we are to our own annihilation. Last year, the group had quite a grim outlook on the world's future. They felt we were coming perilously close to our own demise if attentions weren't paid to the growing climate change crisis and nuclear arsenals. The board decided to move the time from five minutes to midnight where its hands had rested for the past three years — since 2012.
“The Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate accord are major diplomatic achievements, but they constitute only small bright spots in a darker world situation full of potential for catastrophe,” the board wrote.
The group believes the pledges made at the Paris climate talks are an “incremental move” forward, but “insufficient to the task of averting drastic climate change.” The 196 nations in attendance all agree we must prevent temperatures from rising, but no clear consensus was made on how these fundamental changes to the world's energy systems would occur. These were all promises made in good faith with no securities put in place to assure everyone is moving toward a zero-emission economy.
“Even while acclaiming the Paris agreement as a landmark achievement, the UN Climate Change Secretariat acknowledged that if all countries fulfill their voluntary commitments but do no more than that, then by 2025, the world will have used half of the remaining carbon dioxide budget consistent with a 2 degrees C goal,” the group wrote.
Last year, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists made a decision to move the hands of the Doomsday clock forward, stating: "The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon."
The year following their decision, the group sees “[t]hat probability has not been reduced. The Clock ticks. Global danger looms. Wise leaders should act — immediately.”
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the 12th secretary general of NATO, discusses the coming political ramifications of climate change, particularly in the Arctic region:
Photo Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM / Getty Staff
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker