Tales from the Trail

Doomsday Clock rolls back — what would you do with an extra minute?

January 14, 2010

BRITAIN-PARLIAMENT/GREENPEACEGood news! We’re one symbolic minute further away from total annihilation!

The Doomsday Clock, created¬†¬†in 1947 to dramatize the nuclear threat, was reset today to six minutes before midnight, back from five minutes before midnight — midnight being the symbol of the Ultimate Big Kaboom. Or as the board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists puts it, “the figurative end of civilization.”

The board, which includes 19 Nobel laureates, has only adjusted the clock’s virtual hands 18 times, most recently in 2007 when the board moved it forward by two minutes. They cited North Korea’s test of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and a renewed U.S. emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons.

President Barack Obama gets a bit of credit for the latest move away from midnight. So do developments on nuclear weapons control and climate change. Learn more about it here.

So it’s not as late as you might think, in terms of any approaching apocalypse.

As Washington tackles seemingly insoluble problems — fixing the U.S. healthcare system, tracking down al Qaeda, sending aid to earthquake ravaged Haiti — there is some comfort in knowing that there’s one symbolic minute more to work with.

What should the U.S. government spend that extra minute on? And what would you do? Let us know.

For more Reuters political news, click here

Photo credit: REUTERS/Kieran Doherty (Big Ben, behind environmental protesters on the roof of the Palace of Westminster, October 12, 2009, London)

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