Stanford experts warn of probable nuclear catastrophe

Jan. 29, 2016, 2:10 a.m.

The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists, a nonprofit journal that discusses science and policy, recently announced on campus that the probability that a nuclear catastrophe will occur in the near future is high. Their “Doomsday Clock,” a symbolic clock which predicts when humanity will destroy itself, remains unchanged in the latest update, a mere three minutes from midnight — the hour at which catastrophe strikes.

Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation reported this assessment, which was revealed at a press conference on Tuesday led by two Stanford experts and California governor Jerry Brown.

The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 by the Bulletin of The of Atomic Scientists to measure the risk of a global disaster. The clock reached its earliest point in 1991, 17 minutes before midnight, following the end of the Cold War. However, it has since ticked progressively closer to “doomsday.”

William J. Perry, former Secretary of Defense and FSI Senior Fellow, pointed to recent efforts by the U.S and Russia to modernize their nuclear weapons and stated that he feared that the risk of a nuclear disaster today was even greater than during the Cold War and that government policy did not yet reflect this threat. Perry exhorted President Obama to remain committed to nuclear disarmament as he enters his last year in office. George P. Schultz, former Secretary of State and Hoover Institute Senior Fellow, also stressed the need for American leadership and engagement on the international stage.

While the Doomsday Clock initially focused on the risk of a nuclear catastrophe, in recent years it has also reflected the threat of anthropogenic climate change. Governor Brown said that the two issues are innately tied and was discouraged by the lack of government action.

 

Contact Zachary Brown at zbrown ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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