The news of the Doomsday Clock being moved to 2 minutes to midnight, took the internet by storm. But how much do we understand what it means?
The Doomsday Clock is maintained since 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board. The clock symbolises the threat of a global catastrophe – a man-made one. This hypothetical catastrophe is to happen at ‘midnight’ and now the clock is 2 minutes away from it. In 1947, when it first began, it was set to 7 minutes to midnight.
The clock has been set backwards and forwards 22 times ever since it first came into existence. the least minutes to midnight being two (1953 and 2018) and the most being seventeen (1991) – making 1991 the year when we were farthest from a global catastrophe. In 1953, when it was at the same point as it is now, the world was at the peak of the Cold War.
So what was the reason for moving to it to two minutes to midnight in 2018? The scientists moved the clock forward by 30 seconds. As per an article in UChicago News, ‘citing growing nuclear risks and unchecked climate dangers, the Doomsday Clock has been moved to two minutes before midnight.’
There was a group of international scientists known as the ‘Chicago Atomic Scientists’ who were a part of the infamous Manhattan Project as researchers. The Manhattan Project was United States’ program to research and develop nuclear weapons during World War II.
After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the ‘Chicago Atomic Scientists’ began publishing a newsletter and then a magazine ‘Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists’, with the clock on every cover. Artist Maryl Langsdorf is known to have designed the first cover of the magazine. The magazine is now entirely digital.
A co-founder of this Doomsday Clock, Eugene Rabinowitch, once explained, “the Bulletin’s clock is not a gauge to register the ups and downs of the international power struggle; it is intended to reflect basic changes in the level of continuous danger in which mankind lives in the nuclear age.”
The clock was moved forward by 30 seconds in 2017 as well. One of the reasons to do so back then was US President Donald Trump’s comments over nuclear weapons and the threat of an arms race between Russia and United States. This time, in 2018, the reason is the failure of various world leaders in addressing the issues of nuclear war and climate change.
‘Nuclear war’, ‘nuclear weapons’ have been the main reasons for moving the Doomsday Clock forward.
Now you know what it means when the clock moves forward or backwards. All of us, are in a way, responsible for it.