Amanda Rae, for the “Clean-up on Aisle Four” Blog

Two and a Half Minutes to Midnight

In 1947, scientists that worked on the Manhattan Project needed a way to convey to the public the dangers of nuclear power. They needed to convey the danger of a scientific evil to a people who had no background in science and wouldn’t understand phrases like “subatomic fission.” They created a magazine titled the “Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.” On the front of it was a depiction of a clock they called the  “Doomsday Clock.” Starting out, they set the clock to seven minutes to midnight. On the Clock, midnight is the end of humanity. In this way, the scientists could give a clear picture to the public how much danger the human race was in. In 1949, the scientists moved the minute hand to three minutes to midnight when the Soviet Union tested their first atomic bomb. In 1991, the scientists set the minute hand to seventeen minutes to midnight, when the USSR and the US signed a treated called the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (henceforth referred to as START). The US and the USSR agreed to reduce their stock of nuclear weaponry, and an era of safety was established.

Over the years, new challenges to humanity have arisen, like Nationalism, the philosophy that a nation should detach from other nations and preserve itself and its people. Another looming and very apparent threat is climate change, the heating of the earth’s global climates largely due to the increased industrialization by humanity. The Doomsday Clock has adapted to include the challenges humanity now faces, and since 1991, the minute hand has inched closer and closer to the top of the clock. The day is January 26, 2017. It is the seventieth anniversary of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and it is time for the latest issue to be published. The front cover reads “It is two and a half minutes to midnight.”

“Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defense doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and TV personalities are joining the bellicose chorus. It all looks as if the world is preparing for war,” said Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, and one of the co-signers of START in 1991. In recent months, not only Vladimir Putin, the current president of the Russian Federation, but also Donald Trump, the president of the United States, have said that they are interested in increasing and modernizing their nuclear weaponry stock. “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” Trump said late December of 2016 in a post on his Twitter account. Also of alarm is the rising trend of Nationalism over Globalism among some of the world’s top countries.

In the last year, Britain voted to leave the European Union, which was set in place to unify European countries with the idea that countries that rely on each other for trade are less likely to go to war. In recent days, Donald Trump has said that he will move forward with building the border wall between Mexico and the United States, and also has signed an Executive Order banning travel from seven Middle Eastern countries in the name of stopping potential terrorists. Of utmost importance to the Atomic Scientists is the necessity of the world’s superpowers to come together and sign new treaties to reduce nuclear weaponry stock.

Another chief concern of the Scientists is the threat of global climate change. The science is clear, “The burning of fossil fuels adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere; carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, inhibiting the radiation of heat into space. The relationship between increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and increased terrestrial temperature has been researched for decades, and national science academies around the world agree,” reads the latest Bulletin’s section on man-made climate change. Humanity must accept the science and work together to limit greenhouse gas emissions and invest in cleaner, more sustainable energy.

Donald Trump has no interest in the science and is of the opinion that man-made climate change is a hoax put in place to weaken American industry. This January, Trump ordered a “gag” on any Environmental Protection Agency social media accounts, in an effort to keep climate scientists from reaching the public with their concerns and findings. Also in the order is that EPA employees must not talk to the press. Not only has Trump engaged in censorship of science news, also in his first week of duty, he has greenlighted the building of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, major pipelines that will run through America to transport oil for oil titan companies. One thing is certain, Trump will not take climate science seriously, and this is dangerous for us all.

Things certainly may seem grim, and those of us that seek the truth, believe in science, and believe global togetherness and care for others are the keys to peace are now in the resistance. We must stick together, seek the truth where it can still be found, and resist the Nationalist, warmonger, and power-hungry philosophies being imposed on the American public. Together we will outlive these scary times, and in time, we will be the signers of new peace treaties for the future. Our next step? Come 2018, we must put representatives in place that will mitigate and balance Trump’s power. All we can do now is spread the truth, to be the ones to bring light to the darkness that the Trump administration is spreading. Get out, protest, spread the word, prepare to put the right representation in place.

We will make it. Future generations of Americans depend upon it…

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