The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock face that represents a countdown to a global catastrophe, like nuclear war, climate change, biological weapons and threats to cyber security. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, started by physicists who built the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project, started the clock in 1947. The closer that The Science and Security Board set the clock to midnight, the closer they believe the world is to disaster. Today at a news conference, scientists announced that they have set the clock to two and a half minutes to midnight. This is the closest to midnight the clock has ever been set to since 1953 when The United States and The Soviet Union tested thermonuclear devices within just months of one another. The farthest the clock has been from midnight was in 1991, when The United States and the Soviet Union signed the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
Ahead of the 2017 clock announcement, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists stated that,
“a rise in strident nationalism worldwide, President Donald Trump’s comments on nuclear arms and climate issues, a darkening global security landscape that is colored by increasingly sophisticated technology, and a growing disregard for scientific expertise” were all contributing factors to moving the clock forward. In 2016, the clock didn’t change from it’s 2015 setting on 3 minutes to midnight.
Among those in attendance at the National Press Club announcement were former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas R. Pickering and Sharon Squassoni of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the both of them speaking at the announcement event.
Pickering has been an avid advocate for climate change, contributing to articles in the Bulletin Of The Atomic Sciences website about the dangers of climate change, along with nuclear weapons. Squassoni has formerly advised Congress as a senior specialist in weapons of mass destruction at the Congressional Research Service and served in nuclear nonproliferation and policy planning positions at the State Department and at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.