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Doomsday Clock Moves Within 100 Seconds Of Midnight

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It sounds like something out of an old sci-fi movie, but the Doomsday Clock is real. It's not a working clock, more symbolic, with the minute hand showing how close we are to midnight.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And midnight, in this case, that would be the end of humanity. Since 1947, the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has assessed humanity's biggest threats.

MARTIN: And over the years, we at NPR have reported on the doomsday latest.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: The hands are now set at six minutes until doomsday.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: The hands have been moved - four minutes before world disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Today, they're being moved from four to three minutes before doomsday.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: It's now three minutes to midnight.

(SOUNDBITE OF CLOCK TICKING)

GREENE: The Doomsday Clock now has moved again.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

RACHEL BRONSON: Good morning.

GREENE: That's Rachel Bronson saying hello there. She's president and CEO of the Bulletin, which includes 13 Nobel laureates on its board. They held a press conference yesterday to unveil a new time for 2020.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

BRONSON: Today, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves the hands of the Doomsday Clock. It is 100 seconds to midnight.

MARTIN: One hundred seconds is the closest it has ever been.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

BRONSON: The world has entered into a realm of a two-minute warning. Every second matters.

GREENE: The clock, Bronson says, represents two huge threats - nuclear war and global climate change. Sivan Kartha is a scientist at the Stockholm Environmental Institute.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

SIVAN KARTHA: In case we've forgotten what this past year brought - India was ravaged by record-breaking floods. Wildfires raged from the Arctic to Australia. Communities from the Caribbean to Mozambique will be struggling for years to recover from the devastating hurricanes that pummeled them this past year.

MARTIN: Kartha calls it an emergency. But on the Doomsday Clock, there's still a chance to turn back time.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

MARY ROBINSON: The Doomsday Clock is a globally recognized indicator of the vulnerability of our existence.

GREENE: That's Mary Robinson. She's the former president of Ireland.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

ROBINSON: This is no mere analogy. We are now 100 seconds to midnight, and the world needs to wake up.

(SOUNDBITE OF CLIFF MARTINEZ'S "NO SMOKING ALLOWED HERE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.