- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2018

The world is two minutes from total annihilation, scientists warned Thursday as they moved the ominous “Doomsday Clock” ahead to its most dangerous point since the 1950s.

Explaining its decision, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said the world’s failure to act on climate change, President Trump’s rhetoric about nuclear weapons, the North Korean threat, and U.S.-Russia tensions are to blame.

“In 2017, world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago — and as dangerous as it has been since World War II,” the scientists said in a statement.

The organization cited a host of foreign policy issues in making the change, the first adjustment since January 2017 when scientists bumped the clock up to two minutes and 30 seconds to midnight. The scientists specifically said uncertainty about the Iran nuclear deal, “escalating rhetoric” between Pakistan and India, tension in the South China Sea, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, and other international matters make the world an especially dangerous place.

Another key driver, they said, is the failure of global leaders to adequately address global warming.

“On the climate change front, the danger may seem less immediate, but avoiding catastrophic temperature increases in the long run requires urgent attention now,” the scientists said. “The nations of the world will have to significantly decrease their greenhouse gas emissions to keep climate risks manageable, and so far, the global response has fallen far short of meeting this challenge.”

Mr. Trump last summer withdrew the U.S. from a global climate change agreement, saying the deal harmed the American economy and let major polluters, such as China, off the hook. Critics argue that decision will have long-lasting ramifications in the fight against global warming.

The Doomsday Clock began in 1947 as a method of measuring how close the world is to complete and total collapse. It measures the likelihood of war and a host of other concerns.

Its first iteration put the clock at seven minutes to midnight. By 1953, amid concerns of nuclear war between the U.S. and Soviet Union, scientists said the world was just two minutes from destruction.

In 2010, the clock was set at six minutes to midnight, and has accelerated since then.

“It is now two minutes to midnight­­­ ­— the closest the Clock has ever been to Doomsday, and as close as it was in 1953, at the height of the Cold War,” said Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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