2019 Doomsday Clock Update

I noticed that the Doomsday Clock has been set for 2019 the same as in 2018, two minutes to midnight. This NBC report first explained the Clock’s background, as we went over in class, then talks about its function in the contemporary world. It struck me that the Clock no longer corresponds to just nuclear threats, but also to environmental degradation, terrorism, and so on. This shift showcases the challenges that may or may not face us at any given time, as well as what we do or do not prioritize. The decline of the Cold War has decreased how much we worry seriously (as a public; the government may obviously pay greater attention to such concerns) about nuclear threats. However, these still exist, somewhat from Russia but also most publically from North Korea. While not approaching the level of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the nuclear threat is less than when the Clock was made. Yet the Clock stands five minutes closer to midnight/apocalypse than it did during the Cold War. Adding emphasis is the fact that Clock has been changing more often and more dangerously:

A history of the past few decades’ Clock changes

The news video lists “bioterrorism”, specifically, as a modern concern– Americans are more familiar with physical terrorism, like bombs or murders. Is bioterrorism a more major threat than we generally treat it as? That phenomenon could make sense with advances of science, especially since some bioweaponry has been developed, used, or attempted for use (like the 2001 anthrax scare). However, the proximity to Doomsday most likely stems most from the third category mentioned, human-caused environmental decay. We often hear about humans’ detrimental effects on the world. That it might present more danger, though, than the nuclear threats of the 1950s-80s did places the peril of the environment in alarming perspective. We like to think that the effects of deforestation, drilling too often for oil, and other practices will not occur for a long time.

Yet the narrator of this report cautions that the clock represents only our perceived closeness to the end of the world. That premise prompts wondering who (which scientists with what credentials, who were selected how?) assesses how the Doomsday Clock should be set each year. They certainly seem respectable, but, all in all, the Clock encourages further investigation of its related elements, still achieving its goal.


“Doomsday Clock.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Jan. 2019, thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/.

News, NBC. “The Doomsday Clock Has Us At Two Minutes To Midnight | Mach | NBC News.” YouTube, National Broadcasting Company, 24 Jan. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMhRPlgL1-U.



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