WE will find out how close we are to Armageddon when the world’s most revered scientists gather in Washington DC to announce what time it is on the Doomsday Clock.
The symbolic timekeeper of our impending destruction is currently set at three minutes to midnight — the closest we have ever been to that dreaded hour since the clock began ticking in 1947.
The clock is a universally recognised indicator of our vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, emerging technologies and more recently, global warming. We ignore it at our peril.
On Wednesday morning (1.30pm Tuesday in America), the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will reveal whether the minute hand will be adjusted, at a live press conference in Washington DC.
“Tensions between the United States and Russia that remain at levels reminiscent of the Cold War, the danger posed by climate change, and nuclear proliferation concerns, including the recent North Korean nuclear test, are the main factors influencing the decision about any adjustment that may be made to the Doomsday Clock,” a statement on the Bulletin’s website said.
“In January 2015, the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand advanced two minutes, moving from five to three minutes before midnight, the closest it has been to catastrophe since the early days of above-ground hydrogen bomb testing.”
Last year’s dramatic shift towards midnight prompted the group — which counts 16 Nobel Laureates among its members — to pen an open letter to the world’s leaders warning immediate action must be taken to prevent a tragedy of global proportions.
“In 2015, unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernisations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe,” it wrote.
“These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.”
The recent peace deal between Iran and the United States and progress made at the Paris climate change summit will also be taken into account in the calculations but it’s hard to say how much of a mitigating effect these positive developments will have.
BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS — WHO ARE THEY?
The group was founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project. They named themselves the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and in 1947 created the Doomsday Clock “using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet”.
Any adjustment to the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand is made by the Bulletin’s Board of Directors and its sponsors, which include 16 Nobel Laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognised indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences.
THE IMPENDING ANNOUNCEMENT FREAKING OUT ‘ENDTIMERS’
At any given moment, anywhere in the world there are a bunch of people who believe the world is about to end.
The epic blizzard Jonas is doing nothing to ease fears of America’s perpetual preppers, who are likely to be tipped over the edge if the Doomsday Clock edges any closer to midnight.
Religious “prepper” sites with names like Rapture Ready and The Endtimes Forecaster are sending readers into a frenzy with their take on Jonas and the many other unusual weather and planetary events currently affecting the world.
“As most of you are aware Jonas/Jonah was the prophet that delivered the message of coming judgment to the capital city of the Assyrians — Nineveh (in Iraq and currently occupied by Islamic State),” noted William Frederick, who runs The Endtimes Forecaster blog.
“Is God sending America a message through this storm? And if so, is the message that God is sending America; yet forty days, and judgment cometh? It is interesting to note that the Fast of Nineveh just ended on 1/20/16 and the storm formed the day after.”
Doomsayers also live in fear of the months June, July and August this year when the Earth is expected to experience a polar shift. A widely held belief in the prepper community is that the Earths poles will actually flip, turning north to south on compasses, causing the sun to rise in the West and continents to lurch, triggering earthquakes and the ultimately the destruction of the world.
According to NASA, however, this is a load of rubbish. The space agency confirms the Earth’s poles are moving but stresses that we are not at risk from the phenomenon.
In fact, the magnetic north pole has inched north by more than 1100km since the early 19th century when its location was first determined by explorers. It picked up speed in the 21st century, moving at about 64km a year, compared with 16km a year in the early 20th century.
NASA says the magnetic field has flipped its polarity many times over the millennia with no dramatic effects. In the past 20 million years, the poles have reversed about every 300,000 years — though it has been twice that long since our planet experienced the last reversal.
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