Midnight represents nuclear apocalypse. The Clock is recognized around the world as an indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies. Each year the decision to move the Clock forward, backward, or not at all, is determined by the Bulletins Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors which includes 15 Nobel Laureates.
In making this year’s move to two minutes till midnight, the Bulletin stated that “in 2017, world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threat of nuclear war and climate change, making the world’s security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago-and as dangerous as it has been since World War II.”
In recent years the Bulletin has added climate change to nuclear weapons as a major risk of global conflict. This year the greatest threat remained that of nuclear conflict with the ongoing North Korea crisis featuring dangerous rhetoric and actions coming from both sides. World experts have made their assessments; leadership in the US and North Korea have now radically elevated the risk of nuclear war either by accident or miscalculation.
Coupled with deteriorating relationships between the world’s nuclear powers, with US and Russian relations at the lowest point in decades and rising tensions between the US and China, all while the United States plans to rebuild its nuclear arsenal—prompting all of the other nations to follow suit. The situation is further undermined from a diplomatic standpoint by an understaffed and demoralized US State Department and thus the Clock ticks forward.
The Board stated, “To call the world nuclear situation dire is to understate the danger—and its immediacy.”
It was also emphasized that this urgent warning of global danger described a future that did not have to be, but in order to change demanded action now from the citizens of the world. We have the ability and now the legal framework with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to abolish nuclear weapons, just as we have the ability to address climate change.
What is necessary is the political will for change arising from the people across the country and the globe demanding this action now.
At this year’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the leader of the recipient, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Beatrice Fihn, said regarding abolishing nuclear weapons, “those who say that future is not possible need to get out of the way of those making it a reality.”
It’s time, possibly our final chance, to abolish nuclear weapons. It’s two minutes till midnight.