17 January 2007

Five Minutes to Midnight

A simple clock served as one of the signatory icons of the (first) nuclear age. The "Doomsday Clock" of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists hearkened a reminder of impending destruction. First set at 7 minutes to Midnight when it appeared in 1947, the clock's minute hand has moved closer to and fallen away from apocalyptic midnight as threats to civilization ebbed and flowed. The closest to midnight was in 1953 when the hands were set at 2 minutes to midnight following the decision by the US to pursue the "Super" or thermo-nuclear weapons and 3 minutes 'til - twice; 1949 (Soviet A-bomb test) and 1984 (SS-20s vs Pershing II's and GLCMs in Europe and overall frosty relations between US and Soviet Union (remember "The Day After"?)). The furthest from midnight? 17 minutes with the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1991).

So, why the trip down Nuclear Memory Lane?

17 January 2007 Statement from the Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

We stand at the brink of a second nuclear age. Not since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has the world faced such perilous choices. North Korea’s recent test of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a renewed U.S. emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons, the failure to adequately secure nuclear materials, and the continued presence of some 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia are symptomatic of a larger failure to solve the problems posed by the most destructive technology on Earth.

This deteriorating state of global affairs leads the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists--in consultation with a Board of Sponsors that includes 18 Nobel laureates--to move the minute hand of the “Doomsday Clock” from seven to five minutes to midnight.
(read the rest here)