According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' (BAS) Science and Security Board, the world is the closest it has been since 1953 to a man-made global catastrophe. As of January 25, 2018, the BAS moved the Doomsday Clock’s hand to two minutes until midnight.
"It is with considerable concern that we set the time of the 2018 doomsday clock and offer a plea to rewind the doomsday clock," said BAS President and CEO Rachel Bronson. "As of today, it is two minutes to midnight."
According to the group, the greatest danger to global security is currently the threat of nuclear war.
"North Korea's nuclear weapons program made remarkable progress in 2017, increasing risks to North Korea itself, other countries in the region, and the United States," the report notes. "Hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions by both sides have increased the possibility of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation."
While nuclear issues were heavy on the minds of the BAS Science and Security Board at a news conference on Thursday, there were also several other factors that led to the decision to move the hand of the Doomsday Clock forward. One of the other important factors the panelists mentioned was a perceived reluctance of policy-makers to embrace scientific data.
(Image from Grist.org)
"Divorcing public policy from empirical reality endangers us all," said theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, adding, "what we need is evidence-based policy making, not policy-based evidence making."
The Trump administration was also repeatedly singled out by the panelists as policies they viewed as harmful, noting especially the decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord and the administrations disparagement of the Iran nuclear deal.
The last time the Doomsday Clock was so close to midnight was when the US and the Soviet Union were in a nuclear arms race in 1953. In 2017, the clock was moved to three minutes to midnight, then to two and a half minutes to midnight.