Omar A. Obregon-Cuebas
The year is 1953. Eisenhower was in his first year of his first term as president of the United States. Nikita Khrushchev was in his first year as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. The Korean war had ended after three years, and both the United States and the Soviet Union had tested the hydrogen bomb.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists declared then in 1953 that there were two minutes until midnight, that is until the western world “from Chicago to Moscow” faces a nuclear apocalypse. Now in 2018, the clock has reached its lowest point since 1953.
What does it mean that the Clock was two minutes to midnight? The Bulletin was comprised of University of Chicago scientists who helped to develop the atomic bombs. The scientists of the Bulletin meet yearly to determine how humans are affecting the world through international conflict, environmental issues and the likelihood of nuclear annihilation.
Two minutes to midnight sounds as imminent as a nuclear threat itself. This change makes it sound as if we should use our low-interest Perkin loans and crowdfund for a UNCG bunker. I would say that it’s a little early for that, although I’ll be the one to start the Gofundme page if necessary.
The thought of a nuclear midnight ignited by President Donald Trump is one that inspires a sense of nihilistic dread. However, I think we should look at several things. First, the only entity to ever use nuclear weapons offensively against another entity is the United States against Japan in WWII.
Next, as Donald Trump stated in the draft of his Nuclear Posture Review, the government wants to expand the amount of “Low-yield” nuclear weapons that the U.S. possesses. Currently, the United States possesses 4000 stockpiled nuclear warheads, and it and Russia are by far the strongest Nuclear powers. This means that the fate of nuclear war depends largely on the actions of the U.S. and Russia. With congress increasing the military budget to $700 billion, the threat of nuclear war feels imminent.
However, while I agree with the Bulletin that the possibility of nuclear annihilation has gone up, I do not feel it is the most likely cause for the impending apocalypse. The current number one prospect for midnight belongs to human-induced climate change.
We are currently facing longer and more intense droughts, more extreme weather, increased sea levels, stronger hurricanes and a plethora of other issues. This is partially due to the natural changing of the Earth, but mostly due to the attitudes and activities of humans, especially within the past 200 years.
Of course, The Bulletin since 2007 has begun to include these effects of climate change as part of the Doomsday Clock. However, in this report, they state “The greatest risks last year arose in the nuclear realm.” I believe that they are greatly underestimating the effect of Trump’s policies on climate, and overestimates the current party’s effect on nuclear war. Our greatest risks lie with climate change, and with the Donald Trump administration’s blatant disregard for the current dangers of the environment.
This administration has shown that climate change and other current issues facing the environment are not a priority. Donald Trump’s administration have shown that they aim to return to the days of being the world’s “police,” a strong arm imperial power. Through destroying the environment with reckless policies, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, and attempting to bring the U.S. nuclear stockpile up, it is clear that the Donald Trump administration care little about the future, or lack thereof.
We can choose to sit and despair as the clock ticks ever so slowly towards the impending destruction of our planet, but unlike the nuclear stockpile, we can have some effect on climate change. We can aim to lower our consumption, help to change legislation and maybe then we can combat the apocalypse.