Washington: The election of Donald Trump as US President, impact of climate change as well as wider geopolitical turbulence like the tension between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan and North Koreas nuclear rhetoric have become so dangerous that the scientists behind the symbolic “Doomsday Clock” have moved it 30 seconds closer to midnight.
Over the course of 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanitys most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists warned.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock in 1947, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet.
The United States and Russia?which together possess more than 90 per cent of the worlds nuclear weapons?remained at odds in a variety of theaters, from Syria to Ukraine to the borders of NATO; both countries continued wide-ranging modernisations of their nuclear forces, and serious arms control negotiations were nowhere to be seen, they said.
North Korea conducted its fourth and fifth underground nuclear tests and gave every indication it would continue to develop nuclear weapons delivery capabilities, they noted.
“Threats of nuclear warfare hung in the background as Pakistan and India faced each other warily across the Line of Control in Kashmir after militants attacked two Indian army bases,” they said.
The climate change outlook was somewhat less dismal?but only somewhat. In the wake of the landmark Paris climate accord, the nations of the world have taken some actions to combat climate change, and global carbon dioxide emissions were essentially flat in 2016, compared to the previous year. Still, they have not yet started to decrease; the world continues to warm, they said.
This already-threatening world situation was the backdrop for a rise in strident nationalism worldwide in 2016, including in a US presidential campaign during which the eventual victor, Donald Trump, made “disturbing comments” about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons and expressed disbelief in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, they said.
This year, events surrounding the US presidential campaign?including cyber offensives and deception campaigns apparently directed by the Russian government and aimed at disrupting the US election?have brought American democracy and Russian intentions into question and thereby made the world “more dangerous” than was the case a year ago, they said.
For these reasons, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has decided to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to catastrophe. It is now two minutes and 30 seconds to midnight.
The scientists forecast a “dangerous” nuclear situation on multiple fronts, citing North Koreas continuing nuclear weapons development, the steady march of arsenal modernisation programmes in the nuclear weapon states, simmering tension between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, and stagnation in arms control. PTI