What do the Mayans, religious fanatics, and crazy conspiracists all have in common? Each one has a failed history of trying to predict the end of the world. However, with new global developments after the election, scientists are speculating that the end may be near.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock seventy years ago, designed to assess and convey threats to humanity and the planet. This measure was in response to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after mankind had achieved an unprecedented level of destructive capability.
This January, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists turned the hands of the Doomsday Clock to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight. This is the closest it has been to midnight since the Cold War. The Doomsday Clock was set at two minutes to midnight in 1953 after the Soviet Union and the United States began successfully testing hydrogen bombs.
Why the Shift in the Doomsday Clock?
Scientists on the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists include theoretical physicists, climate scientists, as well as national and global security experts.
In addition to the election of a new President and his rhetoric about developing and increasing nuclear arsenals, other sources are to blame for the shift. Harmful rhetoric, the spread of fake news, and questions about credibility have led to a more unstable and disjointed public knowledge and opinion on world issues. The Bulletin surmised that “serious threats to the planet and humanity have expanded and … that the complex global environment ‘is in need of deliberate and considered policy responses'”.
Challenges posed by cyber threats and hackers were also taken into consideration. This came especially after reports of Russian state tampering in the recent Presidential election here in the United States. Also, advances in “dangerous manipulations of genetic material” like bioweapons, autonomous machine and weapons systems, as well as artificial intelligence are beginning to pose unprecedented threats to humanity.
What Does it Mean for Me?
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With the Doomsday Clock at only two-and-a-half minutes to midnight, there isn’t any time to spare.