Three minutes to midnight: Climate change pushes Doomsday Clock forward

Climate change and nuclear tensions have brought 'the end of the world' closer than at any point since 1983, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists who operate the fabled Doomsday Clock.

The Clock – first built in 1947 – was changed to three minutes to midnight yesterday, reflecting the ‘very high probability of global catastrophe’. Unchecked climate change and global nuclear weapons modernisations are the main reasons for the alarming update, said a statement from the board of scientists.

“World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe,” reads the Bulletin. “These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.”

The adjustment – the first in three years – was made by a team of scientist, including 17 Nobel Prize winners.


The only time the planet has been closer to destruction, according to the Clock, was in 1953 after the first hydrogen nuclear bomb was tested. The last time the clock reached 3 minutes to midnight was 1983 when “US-Soviet relations were at their iciest,” according to the Bulletin.

Sivan Kartha, member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and a senior scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute, said: “Global greenhouse gas emission rates are now 50% higher than they were in 1990. Emission rates have risen since 2000 by more than in the previous three decades combined.

“Investments have continued to pour into fossil fuel infrastructure at a rate that exceeds $1trn per year, with additional hundreds of billions of dollars in continued fossil fuel subsidies. We can and must turn this around.”

 Brad Allen

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