It’s official. The world is getting closer to the apocalypse.
The Doomsday Clock, a timepiece used as a barometer of humankind’s fate, was moved one minute closer to midnight the other day, the first time it has been nudged forward since 2007.
And then yesterday, it was moved another minute closer. It is now 11:56, four minutes before the hour of doom.
The re-setting of the clock was carried out by the world’s leading atomic scientists and aimed at warning the public about various catastrophic dangers, due to nuclear weapons.
The process involved in deciding the time is a serious one, overseen by a venerable board of scientists, Nobel laureates and others and concluded with a symposium in Washington. The setting of the clock is no longer based only on the proliferation of nuclear arms, but also on threats such as climate change and biological weaponry.
The reason an additional minute was added yesterday was because “the Mayans were probably right,” according to one top scientist.
In moving the clock ahead, scientists cited the failure of world leaders to achieve significant progress on the reduction of nuclear weapons and in developing a comprehensive response to climate change. Just two years ago, following global talks on climate change in Copenhagen and international pledges to reduce nuclear stockpiles, the BAS moved the clock backward by a minute.
Robert Socolow, a professor at Princeton University did the actual reset of the Doomsday Clock.
“Faced with clear and present dangers of nuclear proliferation and climate change, and the need to find sustainable and safe sources of energy, world leads are failing to change business as usual,” said Lawrence Krauss, co-chairman of the group’s board of sponsors.
“As we see it,” Krauss said, “the major challenge at the heart of humanity’s survival in the 21st century is how to meet energy needs for economic growth in developing and industrial countries without further damaging the climate … and without risking further spread of nuclear weapons — and in fact setting the stage for global reductions.”
Since being unveiled in 1947, the clock has been reset 20 times. It came closest to doomsday in 1953, when the start of the nuclear arms race pushed its hand to two minutes to midnight, and moved the farthest away in 1991, when the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) by the United States and the Soviet Union gave the world 17 minutes until midnight.
The Mayans predicted the world will end on 12/21/12, so the scientists may move the doomsday clock another minute closer in May of this year – after they examine more evidence.
“The goal is to have the clock strike midnight just seconds before the world ends. Then we’d know we were as accurate as possible,” said Professor Jonathan Horning of Oxford University.