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Donald Trump

‘Doomsday Clock’ moves ahead due to Trump, worsening security

For Doomsday Clock, midnight represents global catastrophe

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 January, 2017, 3:43am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 January, 2017, 3:43am

Scientists on Thursday pushed the minute hand of the famed “Doomsday Clock” from three to two and a half minutes to midnight due to comments by US President Donald Trump and a darkening global security landscape.

The symbolic clock, based at the University of Chicago and maintained by the magazine Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, has served as a monitor on the possible use of nuclear weapons and nuclear war, with midnight representing global catastrophe.

“Over the course of 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanity’s most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change,” the Bulletin’s board said in a statement.

“This already-threatening world situation was the backdrop for a rise in strident nationalism worldwide in 2016, including in a US presidential campaign during which the eventual victor, Donald Trump, made disturbing comments about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons and expressed disbelief in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change,” they said.

The board took aim at Trump further, saying that “even though he has just now taken office, the president’s intemperate statements, lack of openness to expert advice, and questionable Cabinet nominations have already made a bad international security situation worse.”

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In December, Trump called for the United States to bolster its nuclear arsenal, indicating a position at odds with decades of efforts to scale back the nation’s atomic weaponry. He has also repeatedly claimed that global warming is a hoax.

The Doomsday Clock, revised annually, last ticked ahead two minutes in 2015 to reflect concerns about such factors as a slower pace of nuclear stockpile reduction and insufficient efforts to halt greenhouse gas emissions.

Created in 1947 to measure the likelihood of disastrous nuclear conflict, the clock now also includes other threats, such as climate change, biological weapons and cyberthreats.

The clock, initially set at seven minutes to midnight, was as close as two minutes to midnight in 1953 following US and Soviet hydrogen bomb tests, and as far away as 17 minutes to midnight in 1991, when the Cold War era ended.