CONTACT: Anna Schumann
(JANUARY 24—WASHINGTON) In response to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ annual setting of its symbolic Doomsday Clock to 90 seconds before midnight today, the Council for a Livable World and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation issue the following statement on behalf of Executive Director and former nine-term Congressman John Tierney:
“Our friends at the Bulletin were right to set the clock at 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to symbolic human-made Armageddon,” Tierney said. “Over the years, the clock has crept ever closer, signifying humanity’s terrifying push to the brink of self-destruction through the existential threat of nuclear war. When coupled with the horrific effects of climate change, the danger seems more immediate. The fact that we haven’t stumbled our way into nuclear war is a testament to the effectiveness of arms control, along with a dose of good fortune on which we should not have to rely.
Since the Doomsday Clock’s setting at 100 seconds to midnight in January 2022 — which remained the closest it had yet been to midnight since its initial setting there in 2020 — Russian President Vladimir Putin has illegally invaded a sovereign nation, ordered his troops to shell near a nuclear plant and hold its workers hostage, and made multiple threats to use nuclear blackmail to achieve his goals. Each of these actions from the world’s largest nuclear power has dire environmental and geopolitical consequences that the clock’s setters were right to address.
Meanwhile, each of the nine countries with nuclear weapons, including the United States, continues spending more and more for inherently indiscriminate nuclear weapons that should not have a place in modern warfare. Russia’s words and actions further fuel the crisis and could provoke an arms race for decades to come, showing little commitment to reaching a world free of nuclear weapons. As the clock’s movement toward midnight signals, we are all heading rapidly in the wrong direction.
We know that climate change and the production and use of nuclear weapons are inextricably linked. The production and testing of nuclear weapons have caused massive damage worldwide, and triggered ongoing health and safety problems for widespread populations. Further, the resource instability climate change creates also increases the chances of regional and global conflicts, thus exacerbating the chances of nuclear weapons use, which would further devastate the environment.
The good news is, humans created the problems of nuclear weapons and climate change, and humans can fix them. Arms control matters more than ever. The United States must lead global disarmament efforts. The United States must work with Russia to protect the progress made under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which expires in just three years. The United States must work with China, Russia and other adversaries to accomplish mutual, verifiable nuclear reductions and prevent nuclear proliferation. Our leaders must encourage realistic assessments of current threats and answer questions about whether nuclear weapons adequately address them. Finally, our leaders must stop writing blank checks to the nuclear industrial complex, wasting taxpayers’ money at great cost to our country’s other myriad priorities. Until we turn toward these solutions, humankind will continue lurching ever closer to symbolic midnight.”