‘Doomsday Clock’ Moved One Minute Closer to Midnight

By Barb Adams

This article was written in response to all the hype surrounding the ‘Doomsday Clock’s’ hands being moved closer to the symbolic Apocalypse of midnight by the directors of the “Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.”  I chose to take a different stance on the BAS directors’ reasons for advancing the hands of time toward humanity’s destruction to one where we all need to change our perspective to more positive, enlightened thoughts; thus, reducing the need for such a clock to exist at all.

Article begins here:

The world supposedly ticked one minute closer to the Apocalypse this week as scientists moved the hands of the ‘Doomsday Clock’ to five minutes to midnight.

Citing heightened tensions between Iran and the West, the Fukushima meltdown, inaction on key issues such as climate change and renewed nuclear proliferation, scientists affiliated with the “Bulletin of Atomic Scientists” (BAS) moved the ‘Doomsday Clock’ one minute closer to midnight (Apocalypse) on Tuesday as a warning that we have once again inched closer to possible obliteration.  It was the first time in two years that the clock has been adjusted.  In January 2010, the clock was moved back to six minutes before midnight amid hopes that world leaders appeared ready to act on nuclear weapons reduction and climate change.

The decision to move the clock closer to midnight was based on what the scientists say is a failure of world leaders and nations to meet goals set previously to stop global threats to humanity.  “Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face,” the BAS directors said in a statement.  “In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed.”

The ‘Doomsday Clock’ was created in 1947 by a group of University of Chicago scientists involved with the Manhattan Project who used the image of the Apocalypse (midnight) to convey the perils of nuclear weapons proliferation.  Today, the directors of the “Bulletin of Atomic Scientists” use the symbolic clock to gauge how close to global disaster we are by monitoring several different means by which humanity could be destroyed—nuclear weapons, climate change, and biological threats.

Throughout the years, the clock’s hands have moved in accordance with the times.  In 1949, the clock stood at three minutes to midnight after President Harry Truman informed Americans that the Soviets had tested their first nuclear device, beginning the nuclear arms race.  After the Upshot-Knothole Grable nuclear test in Nevada in 1953, scientists moved the clock to just two minutes before midnight.  But with the end of the Cold War in 1991, the clock’s hands were reset to 17 minutes before midnight—the farthest they’ve ever been turned back.

By 2007, however, the clock was moved to five minutes to midnight based on threats of terrorism, tension between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and North Korea’s strong nuclear stance.

What will it take for the ‘Doomsday Clock’ to stop ticking forward?  The BAS released a list of changes they believe will lead to a safer world.  Some of the items included in the list are ratification of a comprehensive test ban treaty between the U.S. and China; strengthening the International Energy Agency’s ability to oversee nuclear development and safety; the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions through tax incentives and climate change agreements; transformation of coal power plants to new plants that capture and store the carbon dioxide they generate; and increasing both public and private investment in alternative energies such as solar and wind as well as the technologies for energy storage.

While all of these changes would definitely be steps in the right direction toward a safer world, perhaps a change in perspective is needed as well.  Rather than focusing on ‘Doomsday’ and “catastrophe thinking,” which blocks problem-solving, we need to focus on more positive, solution-based thoughts.  Change begins within.  As Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.”  It’s all in the perspective.  Focus on making 2012 the year in which the ‘Doomsday Clock’ is retired forever.

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