The Doomsday Clock is at Two Minutes to Midnight

Clock showing two minutes to midnight

It is now two minutes to midnight on the Doomsday Clock. But what does this mean? And what on earth is the Doomsday Clock? The answers are deeply disturbing.

History

The Doomsday Clock began life in 1947, invented by a group of concerned scientists as a response to nuclear threats. The idea is simple – the closer the minute hand to midnight, the closer the world to disaster.

The Clock started off at seven minutes to midnight in 1947. It’s moved to and fro a bit over the years. But not since the advent of the Hydrogen Bomb in 1953 has the Clock been so close to midnight.

Alarm

Others are also sounding the alarm. The UN believes that the chance of a nuclear catastrophe is “higher than it has been in generations”. The House of Lords concludes that nuclear risk is back to levels “not seen since the end of the Cold War“.

All scary stuff. So why do we hear so little broadcast about the Clock? The BBC did recently air the excellent documentary Two Minutes to Midnight. But its 11 pm Radio 4 slot on a Monday night was unlikely to reach a wide audience.

There’s little in print either. Walk into any bookstore and try finding a book related to nuclear weapons. Or a headline in a newspaper or magazine.

Apathy

Maybe the media is just reflecting public apathy. After all, nuclear weapons are pretty much invisible nowadays. No Cuban missile crisis petrifies the world. No films like Threads and The Day After shock TV audiences. No four-minute warning sirens blare through the air.

The government isn’t worried either. It puts nuclear war on a par with organised crime, which is just ridiculous.

Today

So it is that other issues now dominate the headlines. Climate change. Brexit. Harry & Meghan.

All the while the Clock is ticking….

But unlike other clocks, the Doomsday Clock can run backwards. Anything that anyone does in the name of peace adds to the reversing force. But more is needed to turn back those big, menacing hands.

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