Donald Trump has caused a Doomsday Clock symbolising the threat of apocalypse to move closer to midnight.
The new ‘time’, two and a half minutes to midnight, is the closest the planet has been to an apocalypse since 1953.
Researchers who manage the clock said the US president’s policies on climate change and nuclear weapons were largely to blame for the change.
Lawrence Krauss and David Titley, who lead the organisation, said the adjustment had been made because the international community failed to deal with humanity’s two most pressing threats: nuclear weapons and climate change.
RThey added this was ‘thanks for Trump.’
‘The United States now has a president who has promised to impede progress on both of those fronts,’ the pair said.
‘Never before has the Bulletin decided to advance the clock largely because of the statements of a single person,’ the two scientists wrote in a statement.
‘But when that person is the new president of the United States, his words matter.’
The group also addressed other issues including the threat of nuclear weapons being built by North Korea, India and Pakistan, Russia and China.
‘A rise in strident nationalism worldwide, President Donald Trump’s comments on nuclear arms and climate issues, a darkening global security landscape that is colored by increasingly sophisticated technology, and a growing disregard for scientific expertise,’ the group said in a statement.
The clear need for climate action is an important one, the researchers said.
‘The continued warming of the world measured in 2016 underscores one clear fact: Nothing is fundamentally amiss with the scientific understanding of climate physics,’ the researchers wrote.’
‘I hope the debate engendered by the 2017 setting of the Clock raises the level of conversation, promotes calls to action, and helps citizens around the world hold their leaders responsible for delivering a safer and healthier planet,’ said Dr Rachel Bronson, executive director of the Bulletin.
‘Nuclear weapons and climate change are precisely the sort of complex existential threats that cannot be properly managed without access to and reliance on expert knowledge,’ said Lawrence Krauss.
In 2015 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, an expert group formed in 1945, adjusted the Doomsday Clock two minutes forward and took it to three minutes to midnight.
That sent a message that the Earth was closer to oblivion than any time since the early days of hydrogen bomb testing and 1984, when US-Soviet relations reached ‘their iciest point in decades’.
Last year the clock’s hands, which have moved forwards and backwards in different years over the past decades, remained unchanged.
A statement accompanying the 2016 Doomsday Clock decision read: ‘Three minutes (to midnight) is too close.
‘Far too close.
‘We, the members of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, want to be clear about our decision not to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock in 2016: That decision is not good news, but an expression of dismay that world leaders fail to focus their efforts and the world’s attention on reducing the extreme danger posed by nuclear weapons and climate change.
‘When we call these dangers existential, that is exactly what we mean: They threaten the very existence of civilization and therefore should be the first order of business for leaders who care about their constituents and their countries.’
The Bulletin was founded by concerned US scientists involved in the Manhattan Project that developed the world’s first nuclear weapons during the Second World War.
In 1947 they established the Doomsday Clock to provide a simple way of demonstrating the danger to the Earth and humanity posed by nuclear war.
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