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ENVIRONMENT: Doomsday clock turns 70 infographic



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Seventy years counting down to Doomsday

Graphic News

June 16, 2017 -- The June 1947 issue of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists introduced the “Doomsday Clock” to the world – its hands set at seven minutes to midnight – as a graphic warning against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

GN NEWSAHEAD -- The Chicago-based Bulletin resets the clock according to the advance or retreat of perceived threats to humankind. Since the introduction of the timepiece, the minute hand has been moved 22 times, the first time in 1949 when the Soviet Union successfully tested its first atomic bomb. Its closest point – two minutes before midnight – came in 1953 after the United States and the Soviet Union each tested thermonuclear weapons. Agreements that reduced the threat of nuclear war sent the minute hand in 1963 to 12 minutes before midnight, its most distant point.

The setting is nudging midnight again. On Jan 26, 2017, the Bulletin reset it from three minutes to two minutes and 30 seconds from midnight, explaining that the world was closer to catastrophe. The bulletin cited nuclear volatility, especially as the United States and Russia seek to modernize their atomic arsenals and remain at odds in war-torn countries such as Syria and Ukraine.

When the Doomsday Clock was created, nuclear weapons represented the greatest threat to mankind. In recent decades, the Bulletin has factored-in possible catastrophic disruptions from climate change and political developments.

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