Doomsday Clock moves 2-minutes closer to midnight.
of the Atomic Scientist is a nontechnical magazine that covers global security and public policy issues, especially related
to the dangers posed by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.Published
continuously since 1945, when it was founded by former Manhattan Project physicists.
Current sponsors include 18 Nobel Laureattes. To convey the perils of nuclear weapons, the Bulletin devised
the Doomsday Clock in 1947.The original setting was seven minutes to .The Clock is not recognized as a universal symbol of the nuclear age.
of the Atomic Scientists Adjusts Clock From to 5 Minutes Before ; “ Deteriorating” Global Situation Cited on Nuclear Weapons and New Factor:
WASHINGTON, D.C. and LONDON, ENGLAND
/// January 17, 2007 /// The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) is moving the minute hand of the Doomsday
Clock two minutes closer to . It is now 5 minutes to . Reflecting global failures to solve the
problems posed by nuclear weapons and the climate crisis, the decision by the BAS Board of Directors was made in consultation
with the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates.
announced the Clock change today at an unprecedented joint news conference held at the American Association for the Advancement
of Science in Washington, DC, and the Royal Society in London. In a statement supporting the decision to move the hand of the Doomsday Clock, the BAS
Board focused on two major sources of catastrophe: the perils of 27,000 nuclear weapons,
2000 of them ready to launch within minutes; and the destruction of human habitats from climate change. In articles by
14 leading scientists and security experts writing in the January-February issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
(http://www.thebulletin.org), the potential for catastrophic damage from human-made technologies is explored further.
in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Doomsday Clock has been adjusted only 17 times prior to today, most
recently in February 2002 after the events of 9/11.
moving the hand of the Clock closer to midnight — the figurative end of civilization — the BAS Board of Directors
is drawing attention to the increasing dangers from the spread of nuclear weapons
in a world of violent conflict, and to the catastrophic harm from climate change that is unfolding. The BAS statement
explains: "We stand at the brink of a Second Nuclear Age. Not since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has the
world faced such perilous choices. North Korea’s recent test of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear ambitions,
a renewed emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons, the failure to adequately secure nuclear materials, and the
continued presence of some 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia
are symptomatic of a failure to solve the problems posed by the most destructive technology on Earth."
BAS statement continues: "The dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons. The effects
may be less dramatic in the short term than the destruction that could be wrought by nuclear explosions, but over the next
three to four decades climate change could cause irremediable harm to the habitats upon which human societies depend for survival."
Stephen Hawking, a BAS sponsor, professor
of mathematics at the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of The Royal Society, said: "As scientists, we understand the dangers of
nuclear weapons and their devastating effects, and we are learning how human activities and technologies are affecting climate
systems in ways that may forever change life on Earth. As citizens of the world, we have a duty to alert the public to the
unnecessary risks that we live with every day, and to the perils we foresee if governments and societies do not take action
now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change."
Benedict, executive director, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said: "As we stand at the brink of a Second Nuclear Age and
at the onset of unprecedented climate change, our way of thinking about the uses and control of technologies must change to
prevent unspeakable destruction and future human suffering."
Martin Rees, president of The Royal Society, professor of cosmology and astrophysics , master of Trinity College at the University
of Cambridge, and a BAS sponsor, said: "Nuclear weapons still pose the most catastrophic and immediate threat to humanity,
but climate change and emerging technologies in the life sciences also have the potential to end civilization as we know it."
M. Krauss, professor of physics and astronomy at CaseWestern ReserveUniversity, an a BAS sponsor, said: "In these dangerous times, scientists have a responsibility to
speak truth to power especially if it might provoke actions to reduce threats from the preventable technological dangers currently
facing humanity. To do anything else would be negligent."
Thomas Pickering, a BAS director and co-chair of the International Crisis Group, said: "Although our current situation is
dire, we have the means today to successfully address these global problems. For example, through vigorous diplomacy and international
agencies like the International Atomic Energy Agency, we can negotiate and implement agreements that could protect us all
from the most destructive technology on Earth—nuclear weapons."
of the new statement from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists include the following:
second nuclear era, unlike the dawn of the first nuclear age in 1945, is characterized by a world of porous national borders,
rapid communications that facilitate the spread of technical knowledge, and expanded commerce in potentially dangerous dual-use
technologies and materials. The Pakistan-based network that provided nuclear technologies to Libya,
North Korea, and Iran, is an example of the new challenges confronting the international community."
years after the end of the Cold War, following substantial reductions in nuclear weapons by the United States and Russia, the two major powers have now stalled in their progress toward deeper reductions in their
"More than 1400 metric tons of highly enriched uranium and approximately 500 tons of plutonium
are distributed worldwide at some 140 sites, in unguarded civilian power plants and university research reactors, as well
as in military facilities."
warming poses a dire threat to human civilization that is second only to nuclear weapons. Through flooding and desertification,
climate change threatens the habitats and agricultural resources that societies depend upon for survival. As such, climate
change is also likely to contribute to mass migrations and even to wars over arable land, water, and other natural resources."
prospect of civilian nuclear power development in countries around the world raises further concerns about the availability
of nuclear materials. Growth in nuclear power is anticipated to be especially high in Asia, where Japan
is planning to bring on line five new plants by 2010, and China intends to build 30
nuclear reactors by 2020."
factors are driving the turn to nuclear power— aging nuclear reactors, rising energy demands, a desire to diversify
energy portfolios and reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and the need to reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change.
Yet expansion of nuclear power increases the risks of nuclear proliferation."
BAS statement also outlines a number of steps that, if taken immediately, could help to prevent disaster, including the following:
the launch readiness of U.S. and Russian nuclear forces and completely remove nuclear weapons from the day-to-day operations
of their militaries.
the number of nuclear weapons by dismantling, storing, and destroying more than 20,000 warheads over the next 10 years, as
well as greatly increasing efforts to locate, store, and secure nuclear materials in Russia
production of nuclear weapons material, including highly enriched uranium and plutonium—whether in military or civilian
in serious and candid discussion about the potential expansion of nuclear power worldwide. While nuclear energy production
does not produce carbon dioxide, it does raise other significant concerns, such as the health and environmental hazards of
nuclear waste, the production of nuclear materials that can be diverted to the production of weapons, and the safety and security
of the plants themselves.
BAS AND THE CLOCK
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had worked
on the Manhattan Project and were deeply concerned about the use of nuclear weapons and nuclear war. In 1947 the Bulletin
introduced its clock to convey the perils posed by nuclear weapons through a simple design. The Doomsday Clock evoked both
the imagery of apocalypse () and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero). In 1949 Bulletin
leaders realized that movement of the minute hand would signal the organization’s assessment of world events. The decision
to move the minute hand is made by the Bulletin’s Board of Directors in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which
includes 18 Nobel Laureates. The Bulletin’s Doomsday Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s
vulnerability to nuclear weapons and other threats. Additional information is available on the Web at http://www.thebulletin.org.
CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell, (703) 276-3266
The risk of nuclear terrorism--jk
mid which thinks that their god want their cell of zealots to blow up a train in Spain or the Trade Center buildings in New
York, they are also capable of thinking that it they would be even more effective if they contaminated New York with plutonium
or detonate an atomic bomb.Scientific American wrote of such risk (Feb 06).
For those who want to
read more on nuclear threat, the California Skeptics maintain an excellent collection of articles and hundreds of links.The best on the web.