(CN) – Humankind is 30 seconds closer to midnight – doomsday – than a year ago and the closest we’ve been to the end of days since 1953, and Doomsday Clock scientists say President Donald Trump bears most of the blame.
Introduced in 1947, the clock is a symbolic instrument informing the public when humankind is facing imminent disaster. The movement of its hands, either forward or backward, is decided by the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
The scientists placed the hands of the 1947 clock at seven minutes to midnight. Since then it has moved closer to and farther away from midnight, depending on world events.
In the early days of the clock, the scientists most feared nuclear annihilation. In 1953, both the United States and the former Soviet Union had tested their first hydrogen bombs and the clock moved closer to midnight than it’s ever been before or since: two minutes till.
Various nuclear treaties in the 1960s and 1970s moved the hands back; breaches of the treaties pushed them forward. The deep freeze in U.S.-Soviet relations in the 1980s moved the clock to three minutes to midnight, until the end of the Cold War and the hope it brought to humanity pushed the clock back to 17 minutes before midnight – the farthest it’s ever been from doomsday.
The scientists added climate change to the list of humanity’s woes in 2007 – five minutes to midnight – and by 2015, with nuclear weapons modernization and tests by North Korea and Iran, and a warming earth that shows no signs of abating, the clock was set at three minutes to doomsday.
Where it sat until the election of Donald J. Trump.
The scientists on Thursday moved the hands to 11:57:30, just 150 seconds to the end. And in an op-ed for The New York Times, two of the scientists noted continued threats from both nuclear proliferation and climate change and Trump’s promises to impede what little progress has been made to address those threats.
“Never before has the Bulletin decided to advance the clock largely because of the statements of a single person,” theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss and climate scientist David Titley wrote. “But when that person is the new president of the United States, his words matter.”