Australian news, and some related international items

“Doomsday Clock” moved 30 seconds closer to “midnight,”

CLOSER TO MIDNIGHT: THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK AND THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR WAR, Wired, 25 Jan 18, THE ACCIDENTAL MISSILE alert in Hawaii earlier this month made real for 38 terrifying minutes the vague, low-level dread that permeates American life today: Nuclear war seems closer and more real than it has in a generation. Even the pope—not exactly a fear-monger—said last week that the world now stood at “the very limit.”That existential fear was affirmed today by the organization of nuclear scientists who have spent seven decades trying to turn humanity away from nuclear weapons: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved its “Doomsday Clock” 30 seconds closer to “midnight,” an unofficial barometer of how close the world stands to a man-made catastrophe. It now stands two minutes away.

“To call the situation dire is to understate the danger,” said Rachel Bronson, the head of the Bulletin, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Thursday, announcing the clock’s new setting.

The clock dates back to 1947, when the scientists who participated in the Manhattan Project wanted to create a mechanism to warn of escalating global tensions and the danger of global Armageddon. The iconic stylized timepiece has since become the global arbiter of dread—or hope. It aims to answer two questions: Is the future of civilization safer or at greater risk than it was last year? And how does today’s risk compare to the risks we’ve experienced over the last 71 years?

The graphical clock started at seven minutes to midnight, its two-dozen changes since marking the shifting tensions of the Cold War. Its “peacetime” rating peaked in 1991 at 17 minutes to midnight, as the Soviet Union broke apart. It has gradually ticked darker ever since, first as nuclear weapons proliferated to countries like India and Pakistan, and then as it began to factor in other global threats, like climate change.

Last year, for the first time, it ticked forward a half-minute, reflecting the rise of nationalism and the threat to the post-war international order, as well as President Donald Trump’s troubling supportive comments about the appeal of nuclear weapons, and his climate change skepticism.

At the time, he’d been president only a few days; there was little track record to measure his actions versus his campaign rhetoric. But as Bronson told me last month, “Many of our fears played themselves out in 2017… A lot of our concerns were really borne out.”

Today’s movement of the Doomsday Clock—announced live in a webcast—was yet another sign that the world stands on a precipice perhaps unparalleled in the modern era. It hasn’t sat this close to midnight since 1953, a few months after the United States and Russia tested their first thermonuclear bombs……..

The current system makes nuclear war easier to start than to avoid; there’s precious little room for reflection. The first ICBMs will leave their silos just four minutes after a presidential order; once they launch, there’s no mechanism to stop them. No country on the planet possesses the capability to shoot down an incoming strike………

The Threat of War


January 26, 2018 - Posted by | General News

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