Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a nonprofit media organisation, has held a press conference, announcing that the symbolic Doomsday Clock is now 100 seconds to midnight.
The panel convened at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Thursday, 23 January, at 10am EST. Coverage of the event was broadcast live across the Bulletin’s social media.
The panel consisted of members from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, as well as representatives from Nelson Mandela’s non-government organisation, The Elders.
The panel outlined threats across the three major global threats: nuclear risk, climate change and disruptive technologies.
“The current environment is profoundly unstable, and urgent action and immediate engagement is required by all,” says Rachel Ronson, CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “We are here this morning to update you on the doomsday clock and our concerns about the challenges posed by man-made threats to our existence.”
One of the key ideas behind the clock’s creation is the visualisation of urgency and need for collaboration on solving these issues. However, the internet disrupts the traditional flow of information and contributes to the influx of misinformation and fake news around the issues.
“Of particular concern is the undermining of the public’s ability to sort out what’s true and what’s patently false by information warfare,” says Professor Robert Rosner, chair on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “Subverting our ability to arrive at a consensus on the solutions needed to achieve positive change. Past experience has taught us, even during the most dismal periods of the Cold War, we as a people can come together to address our challenges. It is now high time to do so again.”
The symbolic Doomsday Clock represents the time humanity has left to face our largest threats. This is the closest it’s been to striking midnight since it’s creation in 1947.
The announcement comes as tensions between the US and Iran flare around nuclear compliance; the US withdraws from the Paris climate agreement; Australia’s fire season burns out of control and threatens hundreds of native species; along with a plethora of other global concerns.
The Doomsday Clock can be traced back to researchers from the Chicago Atomic Scientists. Members from the group had participated on the Manhattan Project, the US Government’s nuclear weapons research development during World War Two.
“These scientists anticipated that the atom bomb would be ‘only the first of many dangerous presents from the Pandora’s Box of modern science,'” according to the Bulletin’s website. “They were all too correct. Humanity now faces additional threats from greenhouse gases, cyber attacks, and the misuse of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence.”
“I’m urging the United States to play a global leadership role as a global leader,” urged Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General, at the end of the conference. “Based on the principles and values based on the United Nations charter.”
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