On January 24, 2019, the Bulletin of Nuclear Scientists announced that the doomsday clock would be at two minutes before midnight where we had been since midnight. While it is a relief that the clock has not moved forward, it is also disappointing that we did not win any time last year.
If you have not yet heard of the Doomsday Clock, here's a brief and startling summary for you: it was created in 1947 at the University of Chicago as a simple analogy to show people how close we are to are Armageddon at any time. "Midnight" signifies the end of the world on the clock, and the closer the hands are to midnight, the closer to total annihilation.
That the clock remains at two minutes before midnight in 2019 what the group calls "the new anomaly". In a statement they explained the main threats we face today and write:
"Humanity is now exposed to two existential threats, both of which would cause extreme concern and attention." These key threats – nuclear weapons and climate change – the past year has been intensified by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, increase the risk posed by these and other threats, and put the future of civilization at extraordinary risk. "
When the doomsday clock first" ceased " In 1947, during the Cold War, we were at 11:53. Since then it has been reset 22 times. Here are 11 of these adjustments and why they happened.
1. By 1953, the clock had lost five minutes and set the time to 11:58. But there was a good reason: It was the period when the US and the Soviet Union tested nuclear weapons. It is the same time that we are in 2018 now. This is the next time we were closest to midnight.
2. Until 1963, we had not only regained these five minutes – we had doubled them. The clock was at 11:48 am thanks to improved studies and scientific knowledge about nuclear weapons. This year, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty, which limited nuclear testing.
3. Although things were looking upwards with respect to the Soviet Union, France and China had developed nuclear weapons in 1968 and we were involved in Vietnam. Mainly due to these events, we lost another five minutes, which is 11:53.
4. Over the next three years, the Senate passed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Limiting Treaty and the Ballistic Missile Treaty. The three contracts were five minutes before the clock and returned us at 11:48 clock.
5. At least until India tested a nuclear device in 1974 and we lost three more. The clock read 11:51.
6. Until 1981, the US and the USSR were not as "friendly" as in previous treaties, and the discussions had somehow come to a standstill. The arms race got out of control, terrorists became more active, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan aggravated the split between the United States and the USSR. This resulted in a loss of six minutes, which brought us closer to midnight than we had been since 1953.
7 . Then things started to look up. Until 1991, further contracts were signed, the Berlin Wall torn down, the Iron Curtain fell. We won a whopping 14 minutes and arrived at 11:43, the farthest from midnight. Talk about a swing in events.
8. It was not long before we lost ground. In 1998, both India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons. Together with increased military spending around the world, we lost eight minutes and returned in less than ten minutes, so we are at 11:51.
9. We still had no reason in 2002. The US rejected arms control agreements, probably due to 9/11, and announced that they would withdraw from the previously signed Ballistic Missile Treaty. This resulted in a loss of two minutes; the clock read 11:53.
10 . The clock lost two minutes in 2007, thanks to North Korea's nuclear tests and the uncertainty surrounding the Iranian nuclear campaign. Two more were lost in 2015 as the United States and Russia began to modernize their nuclear weapons programs – adding the threat of climate change to earlier concerns over the destruction of nuclear weapons.
11 . The 30-second move in 2017 marked for the first time that the group had moved the clock forward by less than a minute. Why? They were deeply disturbed by Donald Trump's "statements and actions," but acknowledged that it was too early in his administration. "He made rash comments on the expansion of the US nuclear arsenal," she wrote. "He has shown a disturbing tendency to neglect or completely reject expert advice on international security, including the conclusions of intelligence experts, and his candidates for the leadership of the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency are arguing the foundations of climate science took office, the president's excessive statements, lack of openness to expert advice and questionable cabinet nominations made the situation in international security even worse. "Two years later, he was confident in the statements and actions of the president.
An earlier version of this article appeared in 2017.