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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Doomsday Clock Moves 1 minute closer to midnight

http://www.thebulletin.org/content/media-center/announcements/2012/01/10/doomsday-clock-moves-1-minute-closer-to-midnight

Doomsday Clock Moves 1 minute closer to midnight
10 January 2012 DOOMSDAY CLOCK MOVES 1 MINUTE CLOSER TO MIDNIGHT

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: It is Now 5 Minutes to Midnight

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- January 10, 2012 -- Faced with inadequate progress
on nuclear weapons reduction and proliferation, and continuing
inaction on climate change, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
(BAS) announced today that it has moved the hands of its famous
"Doomsday Clock" to five minutes to midnight.

The last time the Doomsday Clock minute hand moved was in January
2010, when the Clock's minute hand was pushed back one minute from
five to six minutes before midnight.

In a formal statement issued at the time of today's announcement, the
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists noted: "It is five minutes to
midnight. Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address
the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has
not continued or been reversed. For that reason, the Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientists is moving the clock hand one minute closer to
midnight, back to its time in 2007."

Commenting on the Doomsday Clock announcement, Lawrence Krauss,
co-chair, BAS Board of Sponsors, foundation professor, School of
Earthand Space Exploration and Physics departments, associate
director, Beyond Center, co-director, Cosmology Initiative, and
director, New Origins Initiative, Arizona State University, said:
"Unfortunately, Einstein's statement in 1946 that 'everything has
changed, save the way we think,' remains true. The provisional
developments of 2 years ago have not been sustained, and it makes
sense to move the clock closer to midnight, back to the value it had
in 2007. Faced with clear and present dangers of nuclear proliferation
and climate change, and the need to find sustainable and safe sources
of energy, world leads are failing to change business as usual.
Inaction on key issues including climate change, and rising
international tensions motivate the movement of the clock. As we see
it, the major challenge at the heart of humanity's survival in the
21stcentury is how to meet energy needs for economic growth in
developing and industrial countries without further damaging the
climate, exposing people toloss of health and community, and without
risking further spread of nuclear weapons, and in fact setting the
stage for global reductions."

Allison Macfarlane, chair, BAS Science and Security Board, member,
Blue Ribbon Commission on American's Nuclear Future, and associate
professor, George Mason University, said: "The global community may
be near a point of no return in efforts to prevent catastrophe from
changes in Earth's atmosphere. The International Energy Agency
projects that, unless societies begin building alternatives to
carbon-emitting energy technologies over the next five years, the
world is doomed to a warmer climate, harsher weather, droughts,
famine, water scarcity, rising sea levels, loss of island nations, and
increasing ocean acidification. Since fossil-fuel burning power
plants and infrastructure built in 2012-2020 will produce energy—and
emissions—for 40 to 50 years, the actions taken in the next few years
will set us on a path that will be impossible to redirect. Even if
policy leaders decide in the future to reduce reliance on
carbon-emitting technologies, it will be too late."

Jayantha Dhanapala, member, BAS Board of Sponsors, former United
Nations under-secretary-general for Disarmament Affairs (1998-2003),
and ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States (1995-7), said:
"Despite the promise of a new spirit of international cooperation, and
reductions in tensions between the United States and Russia, the
Science and Security Board believes that the path toward a world free
of nuclear weapons is not at all clear, and leadership is failing.
The ratification in December 2010 of the New START treaty between
Russia and the United States reversed the previous drift in US-Russia
nuclear relations. However, failure to act on the Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty by leaders in the United States, China, Iran, India,
Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, and North Korea on a treaty to cut off
production of nuclear weapons material continues to leave the world at
risk from continued development of nuclear weapons. The world still
has over 19,000 nuclear weapons, enough power to destroy the world's
inhabitants several times over."

Robert Socolow, member, Science and Security Board, professor,
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and co-principal investigator,
Carbon Mitigation Initiative, Princeton University, said: "Obstacles
to a world free of nuclear weapons remain. Among these are
disagreements between the United States and Russia about the utility
and purposes of missile defense, as well as insufficient transparency,
planning, and cooperation among the nine nuclear weapons states to
support a continuing drawdown. The resulting distrust leads nearly
all nuclear weapons states to hedge their bets by modernizing their
nuclear arsenals. While governments claim they are only ensuring the
safety of their warheads through replacement of bomb components and
launch systems, as the deliberate process of arms reduction proceeds,
such developments appear to other states to be signs of substantial
military build-ups."

Kennette Benedict, executive director, Bulletin of the Atomic
Scientists, said: "The Science and Security Board is heartened by the
Arab Spring, the Occupy movements, political protests in Russia, and
by the actions of ordinary citizens in Japan as they call for fair
treatment and attention to their needs. Whether meeting the challenges
of nuclear power, or mitigating the suffering from human-caused global
warming, or preventing catastrophic nuclear conflict in a volatile
world, the power of people is essential. For this reason, we ask other
scientists and experts to join us in engaging ordinary citizens.
Together, we can present the most significant questions to
policymakers and industry leaders. Most importantly, we can demand
answers and action."

BAS noted that other key recommendations for a safer world have not
been taken up and require urgent attention, including:

■Ratification by the United States and China of the Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty and progress on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty;
■Implementing multinational management of the civilian nuclear energy
fuel cycle with strict standards for safety, security, and
nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, including eliminating
reprocessing for plutonium separation;
■Strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency's capacity to
oversee nuclear materials, technology development, and its transfer;
■Adopting and fulfilling climate change agreements to reduce carbon
dioxide emissions through tax incentives, harmonized domestic
regulation and practice;
■Transforming the coal power sector of the world economy to retire
older plants and to require in new plants the capture and storage of
the CO2 they produce; and
■Vastly increasing public and private investments in alternatives to
carbon emitting energy sources, such as solar and wind, and in
technologies for energy storage, and sharing the results worldwide.
Click here for a full copy of the BAS statement about the Doomsday Clock.

HOW THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK DECISION WAS MADE

The January 10, 2012 Doomsday Clock followed an international
symposium held January 9, 2012 at the Jones Day law firm, 51 Louisiana
Ave NW, Washington, D.C. The Science and Security Board of the
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, with participation from the
Sponsors, reviewed the implications of recent events and trends for
the future of humanity with input from other experts on nuclear
weapons, nuclear energy, climate change, and biosecurity.

Questions addressed on January 9th included: What is the future of
nuclear power after Fukushima?; How are nuclear weapons to be managed
in a world of increasing economic, political, and environmental
volatility?; What are the links among climate change, resource
scarcity, conflict, and nuclear weapons?; and, What is required for
robust implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention?

Click here for the full program for the January 9th symposium.

ABOUT THE BULLETIN OF ATOMIC SCIENTISTS

Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped
develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists subsequently created the Doomsday
Clock in 1947 using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the
contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero), to convey
threats to humanity and the planet. The decision to move the minute
hand of the Doomsday Clock is made by the Bulletin's Board of
Directors in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes
18 Nobel Laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized
indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear
weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life
sciences.

CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell, (703) 276-3266, or pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com.