The Keepers of the Doomsday Clock Are Really, Really Worried About Donald Trump

A metaphorical measure of imminent disaster inches closer to midnight.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announces the latest update to its Doomsday Clock. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

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The Doomsday Clock, a metaphorical measure of how close humanity is to imminent disaster, jumped to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight today, the closest it’s ever been since the height of the Cold War. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the anti-nuclear weapons group that first set the clock in 1947, said that the reason for the time change is simple: Donald Trump. 

Explaining its members’ reasoning, the Bulletin cited the continued threats posed by nuclear weapons and climate change as well as a new one that could make them worse: “a rise in strident nationalism worldwide in 2016, including in a US presidential campaign during which the eventual victor, Donald Trump, made disturbing comments about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons and expressed disbelief in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change.”

Prior to today’s change, the Doomsday Clock was set at three minutes to midnight. It was also set at three minutes from midnight in 1947 and 1984. Today’s setting is the closest to midnight since 1952, when the United States and the Soviet Union tested the first hydrogen bombs. The furthest the clock has ever been from midnight was 17 minutes, in 1991, after the Cold War had ended and both the United States and Russia were reducing their nuclear arsenals.

Here’s Bulletin‘s full statement for why its members are alarmed by the election of President Trump:

 

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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