The clock is ticking.
Yesterday the “Doomsday Clock”, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947 at the dawn of the nuclear age, was moved forward from its present seven minutes to midnight, where it has stood since 2002, to five minutes to the Domesday hour.
The scientists have decided to move the minute hand to reflect the increased dangers faced by the world, including nuclear proliferation and climate change. Ironically climate change increases the risk of nuclear proliferation.
Proponents of civil nuclear power, argue its produces no greenhouse gases and hundreds of nuclear reactors could be built to counter climate change. Yet enriched uranium, to power them, and plutonium are also the vital raw materials for nuclear weapons
Speaking at ceremony to mark the occasion in London, world-renown cosmologist Stephen Hawking warned of the dangers of catastrophic climate change. He said that climate change stood alongside the use of nuclear weapons as one of the greatest threats posed to the future of the world.
“As we stand at the brink of a second nuclear age and a period of unprecedented climate change, scientists have a special responsibility, once again, to inform the public and to advise leaders about the perils that humanity faces,” Professor Hawking said. “As scientists, we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and their devastating effects, and we are learning how human activities and technologies are affecting climate systems in ways that may forever change life on Earth”.
People were pretty anxious about world affairs even before the Doomsday Clock moved up — Public Agenda’s Foreign Policy Anxiety Indicator (http://publicagenda.com/foreignpolicy/foreignpolicy_sidebar.htm) stands at 130 on a 200-point scale. Eight in 10 Americans say they worry about a terrorist attack using biological, chemical or nuclear weapons (47 percent worry “a lot”). The public also gives the government mediocre grades for stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. Even fewer give the government high marks for fighting global warming.
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