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Doomsday Clock lurches forward for the first time since 2015

Posted at 5:04 PM, Jan 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-26 20:01:04-05

DENVER — For the first time since the onset of the nuclear arms race more than 50 years ago, a panel of scientists is warning of the ever-increasing risk of the apocalypse. The Doomsday Clock has moved to two and a half minutes to midnight. 

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists released their 2017 assessment for the doomsday clock, and it's bleak. The clock hasn't ticked this close to midnight since 1953, when both the United States of America and the Soviet Union tested hydrogen bombs. At that time, the clock ticked to two minutes to midnight. 

In the years since, the clock made significant progress for the better. Scientists moved the clock back to 17 minutes to midnight in 1991, but progress has since been lost. 

The panel of scientists signal at the rise of fake news, dangerous words from powerful politicians and ever-advancing nuclear arsenals in its decision to move the clock closer to its ultimate location — midnight. 

“As we marked the 70th anniversary of the Doomsday Clock, this year’s Clock deliberations felt more urgent than usual…as trusted sources of information came under attack, fake news was on the rise, and words were used by a President-elect of the United States in cavalier and often reckless ways to address the twin threats of nuclear weapons and climate change," the panel wrote. 

In years past, including 2015, the panel called the risks of disaster high, calling for action very soon. In 2017, the tone changed. 

The panel wrote, "It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.”

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