Doomsday Clock strikes 30 seconds nearer to midnight

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists unveils this year's Doomsday Clock in Washington

A panel of scientists and policy experts moved their doomsday clock 30 seconds closer to midnight on Thursday, citing President Trump's rhetoric on nuclear weapons, environmental deterioration due to climate change and a lack of trust in political institutions.

"It is now two minutes to midnight - the closest the clock has ever been to Doomsday, and as close as it was in 1953, at the height of the Cold War".

The clock ticked 30 seconds closer to midnight a year ago, following a year in which North Korea conducted two missile tests and vowed to test a missile with intercontinental range - a promise Kim Jong Un's regime kept in 2017.

She said missile testing in North Korea, an enhanced commitment to nuclear weapons in China, Pakistan and India, and Donald Trump's "unpredictability" were considered while making a decision.

Scientists blamed a cocktail of threats ranging from unsafe political rhetoric to the potential of a nuclear threat as the catalysts for moving the clock closer toward doomsday.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Physicist Lawrence Krauss, chair of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Board of Sponsors, explained the group's decision to advance the clock.

"In its rush to dismantle rational climate and energy policy, the administration has ignored scientific fact and well-founded economic analyses", the group said, pointing to, among other things, the administration's decision to pull the US out of the historic Paris climate change pact.

Last year's biggest risks, according to the organization, also pertained to nuclear war.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists urged world leaders to address the ongoing threats of both nuclear weapons and climate change in order to pull the world away from a possible catastrophe.

When it was created in 1947, the clock's hand stood at seven minutes to midnight.

The group also notes the uncertainty of USA support for the Iran nuclear deal as a threat, and the rise of "nation-state information technology and internet-based campaigns" attacking free elections. "If world leaders respect science and make rational choices, there's room for hope", Kartha said. But North Korea's developing nuclear program will reverberate not just in the Asia-Pacific, as neighboring countries review their security options, but more widely, as all countries consider the costs and benefits of the worldwide framework of nonproliferation treaties and agreements.

On the climate-change front, the danger may seem less immediate than risk of nuclear annihilation, but avoiding catastrophic temperature increases in the long run requires urgent attention now.

NUCLEAR risks and climate change dangers have resulted in the Doomsday Clock advancing closer to midnight. This latest adjustment brings the clock within two minutes of midnight.

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