By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - A group of scientists moved the "doomsday clock" 30 seconds closer to midnight Thursday, citing the looming threats of nuclear conflict and climate change.
The clock has now advanced to two minutes to midnight, a metaphor for the end of humanity. It is now "the closest the Clock has ever been to Doomsday", matching only the height of the Cold War, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said.
"The time for world leaders to address looming nuclear danger and the continuing march of climate change is long past. The time for the citizens of the world to demand such action is now," the group that was founded by some of the scientists who helped build the first nuclear weapons said in their annual assessment.
"To call the world nuclear situation dire is to understate the danger—and its immediacy," the group added as it again advanced the clock, just as it did last year.
The Bulletin's board assesses the state of the world each year, deciding whether to advance the clock, leave it in place, or move it back.
Propelling the clock forward are North Korea's illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programs, deteriorating U.S.-Russian relations, and what the scientists called and "insufficient response" to climate change.
Specifically, the bulletin pointed to the Donald Trump administration, which it said includes "avowed climate denialists in top positions.
"In its rush to dismantle rational climate and energy policy, the administration has ignored scientific fact and well-founded economic analyses," the group said, pointing to, among other things, the administration's decision to pull the U.S. out of the historic Paris climate change pact.
"Despite the sophisticated disinformation campaign run by climate denialists, the unfolding consequences of an altered climate are a harrowing testament to an undeniable reality: The science linking climate change to human activity—mainly the burning of fossil fuels that produce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases—is sound," the bulletin added.
Also troubling for the scientists are nuclear modernization plans in countries across the world, including the U.S. and Russia. They urged Moscow and Washington, which possess the world's largest nuclear arsenals, to return to the negotiating table over nuclear pacts, and to limit modernization plans, which they said threaten a new nuclear arms race.
"The failure of world leaders to address the largest threats to humanity’s future is lamentable—but that failure can be reversed," the group said.