January 18th, 2007 16:01 EST
The End of the World-- maybe for real this time
Ever vigilant scientists wind the Doomsday Clock forward by two minutes last night, bringing it to 11:55 p.m., just 5 minutes from the end of the world, thanks to the impact of global warming and nuclear weapons.
The Doomsday Clock was developed by The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists at The University of Chicago in 1947, two years after America dove into the nuclear era by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Bulletin was created by students working on the first nuclear bomb, and is now recognized by the world's most well respected scientists.
The hands on the symbolic Doomsday Clock haven't been moved since 2002, when scientists moved time forward by two minutes, to 11:53, due the 9/11 attacks on America.
"We stand at the brink of a second nuclear age", the The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists said in a statement.
The group pointed to North Korea's first test of a nuclear weapon a year ago, Iran's nuclear ambitions, America's fascination with "bunker buster" nuclear bombs, the ongoing presence of 26,000 nuclear weapons in both the U.S. and Russia, and security problems for nuclear materials as reasons for the time change.
Scientists also stated that the destruction of human habitats and changes in weather brought on by human activities increase the danger to humanity and thusly impact the hands of the Doomsday Clock.
"Global warming", they said, "poses a dire threat to human civilization that is second only to nuclear weapons."
The time change announcement was made in news conferences in both Washington and London. Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, from the University of Cambridge, also a member of the Bulletin's board of sponsors, gave a statement to reporters.
"We foresee great peril", he said, "if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change."
Source: Reuters (UK )