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Think Tank

'Doomsday Clock' Set to Five Minutes to Midnight

"The risk of civilization-threatening technological catastrophe remains high."

Every year since 1945 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists makes the decision of what time its Doomsday Clock shall read. The minute hand of the clock may move closer or further to midnight based on existential threats to humanity. This year the Doomsday Clock stays in place at five minutes to midnight.

In an open letter to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and members of the UN Security Council, the group of scientists - which includes 18 Nobel laureates - argue that in 2013, "the world made limited strides" (such as an interim deal with Iran) toward reducing the threat posed by nuclear weapons, but overall, "the international community dealt with the continuing, potentially civilization-ending threat of nuclear weapons in a business-as-usual manner, meaning that outsized nuclear arsenals remain in the United States and Russia, and the nuclear arsenals of some countries—notably India, Pakistan, and China—appear to be growing."

The nuclear threat is certainly not the only threat the scientists considered. The group concluded that "worldwide efforts to limit the carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change have largely stalled."

Read the full letter here

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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