Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight, but what exactly does that mean?
In slightly terrifying news for the day, scientists have moved the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds ahead, making it two minutes to midnight. The internet is pretty much freaking out as we inch closer to the end of the world, and, honestly, we can’t blame them. But what exactly does it mean when they move the Doomsday Clock, and is it something we need to panic about?
The Doomsday Clock is not an actual clock ticking down the seconds until humanity as we know it is over, but more of a symbol. It’s a metaphorical measure of how close we are to the end of the world, taking into account scientific theories about the state of the earth as well as human activity that could threaten the entire globe. It is monitored by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a group of scientists and nuclear experts who regularly discuss the time on the “clock.”
Midnight on the Doomsday Clock refers to the moment of global destruction, so we obviously don’t want to get closer to it — however, that is exactly what’s happening. Whenever the time is moved, it’s based on scientific theory and evidence, but, of course, it is not a measure of actual time. So when they say we’re two minutes to midnight, that doesn’t mean that the world will end in two minutes. It just means we are moving closer to what many scientists say is an inevitability.
On Thursday, January 25th, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists advanced the clock 30 seconds after a “grim assessment” of world politics. The group said they did this because of “the failure of President Trump and other world leaders to deal with looming threats of nuclear war and climate change.” In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Bulletin officials said, “the Doomsday Clock is as close to midnight as it was in 1953, when Cold War fears perhaps reached their highest levels.” Rachel Bronson, Bulletin president, told reporters:
So what happened to cause today’s advancement? Bulletin officials said it was a mix of North Korea’s progress in developing nuclear weapons that can reach the United States, the worsening relationship between the U.S. and Russia, and the war of words between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Of course, climate change is always taken into account as well.
Does this mean you need to start panicking and making a plan? Well, yes and no. The advancement of the Doomsday Clock is never a good sign, and it certainly means changes need to be made immediately. But remember, the Doomsday Clock is a symbol, and its main purpose is to inform citizens as it sends a warning to the people in power.
On top of that, the unfortunate threat of global destruction always has been, and always will be, something that hangs over our heads. It could happen at any moment, to be honest, even if the clock predicts otherwise, and putting time into stressing about it will do you no good.
We, along with the rest of the world, will be keeping an eye on the situation.