By Fr. Bud Grant
The “Doomsday Clock,” that famous icon of the Cold War, was created by Martyl Langsdorf whose spouse worked on the Manhattan Project. She designed it for the “Bulletin of Atomic Scientists” in June 1947. The idea was to warn society about proximate threat of nuclear war. In 1949 the clock was set at 11:53 p.m. The closest to midnight was 1953 when 11:58 p.m. registered anxiety over the first hydrogen bomb test. The “safest” reading, 11:43 p.m., was just after the USA and the USSR signed the “Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.” The clock isn’t adjusted every year. The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, arguably our most dangerous nuclear threat, was not recorded. Nor did our first Earth Day, in 1970, cause a blip.
Today the clock still registers the threat of self-induced annihilation, but as a sign of the times, it now factors in “new developments in the life sciences that could inflict irrevocable harm,” such as climate change.
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