On January 24, 2019, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board set the Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight —the closest it has ever been to apocalypse, for a second year in a row.
Though unchanged from 2018, this setting should be taken not as a sign of stability but as a stark warning to leaders and citizens around the world.
Humanity faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention: nuclear weapons and climate change. The belief that the threat of nuclear war has been vanquished was and is a mirage. The existential threat from human-caused global warming is ominous and getting worse. These major threats were exacerbated last year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy.
Chaos reigns in much of the information ecosystem on which modern civilisation depends.
The Bulletin thinks there is nothing normal about the complex and frightening reality they describe. This “new abnormal” is a state as worrisome as the most dangerous times of the Cold War, a state that features an unpredictable and shifting landscape of simmering disputes that multiply the chances for major military conflict to erupt.
This new abnormal is simply too volatile and dangerous to accept as a continuing state of world affairs.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists who “could not remain aloof to the consequences of their work.” The Bulletin created the Doomsday Clock two years later. For more than 70 years, the Bulletin has served as a discussion forum for urgent issues at the intersection of science, technology, and society. Today, the Bulletin is an independent, non-profit organisation.
If you think the Bulletin 2019 Doomsday Clock Statement is depressing, go read Zuckerberg’s propaganda!