Doomsday Clock moves closer to midnight

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

The "Doomsday Clock," a measurement used by scientists to estimate mankind's closeness to catastrophic destruction, was moved one minute closer to midnight. It is now 11:55 on the Doomsday Clock, just five minutes from a theoretical end of the world.

The clock is adjusted by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, [BAS] who use it to warn the public about the danger of nuclear weapons and other manmade threats to civilization, including climate change. It's the first time the clock has been adjusted in nearly two years. In January, 2010 the clock was actually moved back a minute. In explaining their reasoning for moving the clock forward, the BAS writes in a formal statement:

"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 to loss of health and community, and without risking further spread of nuclear weapons, and in fact setting the stage for global reductions."

BAS also released a list of what specific changes they say need to be made in order to stop the Doomsday Clock from moving forward. These include:

  • 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;
  • 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.

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