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Trump Cited as Doomsday Clock Advances Toward Midnight

The world is now two and one-half minutes from midnight according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which today moved the hands on its iconic Doomsday Clock thirty seconds closer to the nuclear hour that marks the end of humanity.

The change today brings us closer to midnight than at any time since 1953 – the year the US and Soviet Union first tested thermonuclear weapons within six months of each other.

Here is an excerpt from the Bulletin’s statement:

“Over the course of 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanity’s most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change … This already-threatening world situation was the backdrop for a rise in strident nationalism worldwide in 2016, including in a US presidential campaign during which the eventual victor, Donald Trump, made disturbing comments about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons and expressed disbelief in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change…

“As this statement is issued, Donald Trump has been the US president only a matter of days… Just the same, words matter, and President Trump has had plenty to say over the last year. Both his statements and his actions as President-elect have broken with historical precedent in unsettling ways. He has made ill-considered comments about expanding the US nuclear arsenal. He has shown a troubling propensity to discount or outright reject expert advice related to international security, including the conclusions of intelligence experts. And his nominees to head the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency dispute the basics of climate science. In short, even though he has just now taken office, the president’s intemperate statements, lack of openness to expert advice, and questionable cabinet nominations have already made a bad international security situation worse.”

In addition to addressing the statements made by President Trump, the Board also expressed concern about the greater global context of nuclear and climate issues, noting in particular that

• the US and Russia possess more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons and arms control is at a standstill,

• North Korea conducted its fourth and fifth nuclear tests, and

• Pakistan and India face each other warily across the Line of Control in Kashmir after militants attacked two Indian army bases.

Rachel Bronson, executive director and publisher, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said: “As we marked the 70th anniversary of the Doomsday Clock, this year’s Clock deliberations felt more urgent than usual. In addition to the existential threats posed by nuclear weapons and climate change, new global realities emerged, as trusted sources of information came under attack, fake news was on the rise, and words were used by a President-elect of the United States in cavalier and often reckless ways to address the twin threats of nuclear weapons and climate change.”

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by scientists who had been involved in the Manhattan Project. In 1947 they developed the now-famed Doomsday Clock to convey threats to humanity and the planet. A decision to move – or keep in place – the hands of the clock is made each year. The clock has been as far from midnight as 17 minutes and as near as 2 minutes over the years. This offers some context for its current position at 2 ½ minutes to midnight.

Click here for the Bullentin of the Atomic Scientists official statement.