On 24 January The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that the Doomsday Clock has been moved forward to 2 minutes to midnight. The Doomsday Clock is a symbol which represents the likelihood of a global, man-made catastrophe, and is maintained by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a non-profit research organisation that emerged from the Manhattan Project. The Clock represents the threat of a global nuclear war, with “midnight” being the hypothetical global catastrophe. As of2007 it has also reflected the threat of climate change.


7 minutes to midnight:

The first representation of the Clock, as it appears on the cover of The Bulletin. According to The Bulletin’s website, “It symbolizes the urgency of the nuclear dangers that the magazine’s founders — and the broader scientific community — are trying to convey to the public and political leaders around the world.”

3 minutes to midnight:

The start of the arms race, as the Soviets test their first nuclear device.

2 minutes to midnight:

The US pursues the Hydrogen bomb, more powerful than the atomic bomb. The Soviets test their own H-bomb nine months after the US.

12 minutes to midnight:

The US and Soviets sign the Partial Test Ban Treaty, ending atmospheric nuclear testing after almost ten years of tests. First steps between the two nations in working together to prevent nuclear annihilation.

10 minutes to midnight:

Nearly all nations sign the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, a deal which, according to The Bulletin, requires “the nuclear weapon states vow to help the treaty’s non-nuclear weapon signatories develop nuclear power if they promise to forego producing nuclear weapons.” Israel, India, and Pakistan refused to sign the treaty.

4 minutes to midnight:

The Soviets invasion of Afghanistan forces the US to harden their nuclear stance. Outgoing US President, Jimmy Carter, withdraws the US from the Olympics in Moscow, while considering how to win the nuclear war. Newly-elected President Ronald Reagan proposes that the only way to end the nuclear war is to win it.

17 minutes to midnight:

The Cold War is officially over, and the US and Russia start to reduce the number of their nuclear weapons.

7 minutes to midnight:

India and Pakistan test nuclear weapons three weeks apart. The Bulletin reports, “The tests are a symptom of the failure of the international community to fully commit itself to control the spread of nuclear weapons — and to work toward substantial reductions in the numbers of these weapons”.

5 minutes to midnight:

The world is on the brink of a second nuclear age as Russia and the US are ready to stage a nuclear attack within minutes, and many in the in international community are worried about Iran and North Koreas nuclear efforts. Climate change also posses a threat to humanity.


2 ½ minutes to midnight:

The Doomsday Clock is at its closest to midnight since the early 80’s. The Science and Security Board warn: The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.”


2 minutes to midnight:

The threat that nuclear war and climate change pose are greater than ever. Rachel Bronson, the Bulletin’s president and CEO said, “In 2017, we saw reckless language in the nuclear realm heat up already dangerous situations and relearned that minimising evidence-based assessments regarding climate and other global challenges does not lead to better public policies”

Content: Sam Mukwamu
Taken from the 5 February edition infographic by: Shaun Sproule
Illustration: Sally Hartzenberg

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