'Doomsday' ticks closer on nuclear fears

2012-01-11 09:25

Washington - Global uncertainty on how to deal with the threats of nuclear weapons and climate change have forced the "Doomsday clock" one minute closer to midnight, leading international scientists said on Tuesday.

"It is now five minutes to midnight," said Allison Macfarlan, chair of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which created the Doomsday clock in 1947 as a barometer of how close the world is to an apocalyptic end.

The last decision by the group, which includes a host of Nobel Prize winning scientists, in 2010 moved the clock a minute further away from midnight on hopes of global nuclear cooperation and the election of US President Barack Obama.

However, Tuesday's decision pushes the clock back to the time where it was in 2007.

"It is clear that the change that appeared to be happening at the time is not happening," said co-chair Lawrence Krauss. "Business as usual reigns the norm among world leaders."


Increasing nuclear tensions, refusal to engage in global action on climate change, and a growing tendency to reject science when it comes to major world concerns were cited as key reasons for the latest tick on the clock.

The nuclear accident at Japan's Fukushima plant also highlighted the volatility of relying on nuclear power in areas prone to natural disasters, scientists said.

Robert Socolow, a member of the BAS science and security board and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University, said a common theme emerged in the scientists' talks on how to move the clock.

He cited a "worrisome trend to reject or diminish the significance of what science says is the characteristic of a problem", and called for better world political leadership that accepts the role of science.

"The world is in a pickle," he added. "More people want to live better than they live now on a planet of finite size."

The group added it was "heartened by" a series of world protest movements, including the Arab spring, the Occupy demonstrations in the US and protests in Russia which show people are seeking a greater say in their future.

  • kayceechick - 2012-01-11 10:31

    Tick Tock

      Danie - 2012-01-11 16:14


  • Johan - 2012-01-11 11:00

    When the French build the nuclear powerstations for Escom, the clock will tick twice because Escom cannot maintain and operate even thermal power stations.Ref the damage R3bn at Duvha

  • jody.beggs - 2012-01-11 11:06

    We all should be treated equal , America's super power is driven by Nuclear power , why can't the rest of the world have the same aspirations. America should either take the lead with destroying all nuclear weapons and nuclear energy or help the other countries of the world build up there nuclear arsenal and energy requirements. What's makes the yanks so freaken important ? There whole economy runs on the wars machine so why can't the rest of the world follow suite. Damn the man , stand up to America.

      jody.beggs - 2012-01-11 11:08

      Remember , America is the only country to use a nuclear device on a country , they should have there rights taken away for all the brutality they have unleashed on the world through the war machine. Damn America.

      Byron - 2012-01-11 12:47

      Ignorant comment. Would you want an unpredictable, lunatic dictator like lets say Mugabe with nuclear weapons?

      jody.beggs - 2012-01-11 14:08

      @Byron. If everyone had the same things their wouldn't be a power struggle! By the way how has America used its power , for good or control ?

      gordon.freedman.35 - 2012-06-28 21:23

      dont see your comments referring to other super powers with nukes like russia, china, india, the uk, france the list goes on and on yet you single out the usa as the only agressors in the world and the only country that tramples on the sovrenity of other countries if you gonna tar and feather one do it to all the others as well

  • ludlowdj - 2012-01-11 12:05

    The US is the greatest current threat to world peace, it is in fact a bigger threat than the USSR ever was. As for the acceptance of scientific theory, scientific opinion must be taken with a pinch of salt the same way everything else is, for all their indignant protestations to the contrary, we are talking about a field where something is proven and becomes law until something else is discovered which disproves the previously held theory and replaces it. Demanding trust or loyalty to scientific "discovery" especially in fields that require more than the simple basic laws as we understand them is foolhardy. It does well for the "scientific community " to remember that it wasn't that long ago that "scientific peer review boards" wanted to have people put to death for even suggesting that the earth wasn't flat or god forbid that earth was not the center of the universe. Of course science is not all bunk and before all the holier than thou "scientist" get their knickers in a knot, yes science has allowed us to better understand our world and its workings and yes without scientific pursuit we would most probably still be in the dark ages, however the tendency to paint everything either white or black must be challenged, in truth there is no white or black just shades of grey, with our accumulated knowledge making up less than 1% of what is fact.

      AntiThesis - 2012-01-11 12:35

      Sounds more like you have a bone to pick with science. Any scientific theory causing you problems?

      Johan - 2012-01-11 12:46

      The US gets all their problems with terror due to their own doing by interfering where they do not belong!

      Iameros - 2012-01-11 16:09

      What a refreshing opinion. Kudos to you. Of course, scientific theory can and is manipulated at times to suit political opinion or the opinion of whomever is providing funding. Let's not forget the eugenics theory that had massive scientific support during it's time.

  • omcdermott - 2012-01-11 12:48

    If one takes a step back and observes "the bigger picture" - holistically, one will see that we're experiencing a class-war - a war not coupled to gender or race - but instead, that which is a direct result of the "unfair" capitalist social structure we are all governed by (i.e. the Occupy Movement). Additionally, some are fighting a New World Order, which is being implemented in silo’s with misleading motives – most people to whom I’ve spoken call it a conspiracy. Some ‘actuals’ for Google, should you wish to continue taking me seriously… Codex Alimentarius – Created by the WHO to protect the health of consumers globally – the US recently reinstated the use of several highly toxic pesticides previously banned in 186 countries. Agenda 21 – Created by the UN to achieve “global sustainable development” – never approved by congress but signed by US presidents – this will affect every aspect of our lives. Fluoride – Approved by the US Dental Association despite it being a neurotoxin – found in water supplies, everywhere – this toxic chemical damages the thyroid and calcifies the pineal gland. Am I making sense or is this absolute rubbish? Form your own opinions.

      jody.beggs - 2012-01-11 14:12

      That'll be over to many heads here, but I totally agree.

      TheSlip - 2012-01-11 14:57

      Sure . . . listen to the hipster.

  • Andrew - 2012-01-11 13:31

    The only time the powers that be will listen, is if there is a profit to be made form the advise that is being given.

  • TheSlip - 2012-01-11 14:53

    "Gentlemen. You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!"

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