Doomsday Is Now Just 100 Seconds Away

Illustration for article titled Doomsday Is Now Just 100 Seconds Away
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We are 100 seconds to midnight, which means doomsday has never been closer. Deadass.

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On Thursday, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the clock 20 seconds closer to midnight aka the end of civilization. The last move forward was 2018 when the world reached two minutes to midnight amid threats of climate change, nuclear fallout, and cyberwar.

This time it’s all of the above, but the situation has grown even more urgent as world leaders take little action on the climate crisis despite public outcry and as world leaders (like President Donald Trump) jump inch toward foolish conflicts (like with Iran) that may lead to nuclear proliferation as treaties and agreements to prevent their development crumble.

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The Doomsday Clock has been around since 1947, the start of the Cold War. The scientists who helped develop the world’s first atomic weapons decided it’d be an effective way to communicate to the public the threat those same weapons posed to humanity. In the year’s since, the clock has moved closer and further from midnight. These days, we’ve got a lot more than that to worry about than nuclear weapons, which is why the clock has moved so perilously close to midnight. Climate change is a major reason why. Humans just lived through the warmest decade in recorded history. Unnatural disasters feel non-stop. And the world is on fire. If this doesn’t show us climate change is here, then I don’t know what will.

At the same time, scientists’ warnings have grown ever louder and more stark. The United Nations put out a report just last month noting carbon emissions need to fall nearly 80 percent this decade to avert the worst impacts of climate change yet this week atmospheric levels reached a new height. But recent climate talks have failed to lead to serious action. And then there’s the U.S., which Trump announced would withdraw from the Paris Agreement officially next year.

“Despite these devastating warnings, and all of a sudden governments echoing many scientists use of the term ‘climate emergency,’ their policies are hardly commensurate to an emergency,” Sivan Kartha, a member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and senior scientist at the Stockholm Environmental Institute, said during the announcement.

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If governments were serious about addressing the climate crisis, they’d begin crafting policy that reduces their greenhouse gas emissions and encourages others to do the same. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality we’re living in today.

“This is no mere analogy,” said former Ireland President Mary Robinson, during the announcement. “We are 100 seconds from midnight and the planet needs to wake up.”

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This sucks. I’m all about preparing for doomsday. In fact, that’s my resolution for the new year, but I was hoping I would never actually need the kit. Now that possibility is more real than ever, and I should really get on making the damn thing.

Yessenia Funes is climate editor at Atmos Magazine. She loves Earther forever.

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DISCUSSION

It’s okay to acknowledge the potentially existential crises we face and are not adequately preparing for, and also that the ‘Doomsday Clock’ is stupid.