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Doomsday Clock Holds at 5 Minutes 'til Midnight Due to Climate Change


Plus, board addresses Obama in "unusual" letter.

Last year the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its "Doomsday Clock" one symbolic minute closer to global disaster. In its latest announcement this year, the group of scientists, engineers and other experts held the clock at five minutes to midnight, not improving humanity's condition due, in part, to the government's inaction to curb man-made climate change.

The Doomsday Clock moved to five minutes to midnight in 2012 and in 2013 remained the same. (Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

In its announcement regarding the stagnant state of the Doomsday Clock, which since 1947 has been warning humanity about threats to its survival, the Bulletin remarks on the "unusual move" made by board members in which they addressed President Barack Obama directly in a letter.

Although the board members praised Obama for actions that helped strengthen the nuclear security and his steps to "nudge the country along a more rational energy path" for renewable and non-renewable energy sources, it said the United States needed to make a more concerted effort to respond to climate change.

Here's more from the letter:

This trend, while encouraging, is by no means evidence that the climate challenge has been met. In fact, the growth in low-carbon energy sources is dwarfed by the continued expansion of fossil fuels like coal -- as was exemplified last year by the explosive development of unconventional fossil resources, such as tar sands, oil shale, and shale gas. With life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions that are even worse than their conventional counterparts, these unconventional fossil resources threaten to crowd out investment in renewables and to entrench a long-term dependency on carbon-intensive energy supplies.

Avoiding this scenario will require your administration to considerably speed the process of reforming the patchwork of federal subsidies, taxes, and other incentives and disincentives that distort energy markets. We look forward to substantial progress toward rational energy markets in 2013, including the pricing of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the economy.


In September 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish its fifth assessment of climate science, which will authoritatively document the changing climate. We call on you to commit your administration to firmly accept the panel's scientific findings, urgently integrate these findings into national policy, and confidently face those who irresponsibly argue that climate change science is not relevant.

The letter also mentions cyber threats but takes a rather neutral stance as to how they they should be viewed at this point.

"In 2012, Mr. President, it became clear that cyber technologies, for all their benefits, could trigger a new kind of self-inflicted Doomsday. But how, when, and for whom remains unclear," the letter reads.

In addition to expressing a hope to the president that the United States would continue making strides against cyber threats and protection of data, the board members state that they hope the President will also lead initiatives with regard to climate change mitigation and nuclear disarmament.

Read the full letter to President Obama here.

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