No one can say how much longer Donald Trump will be in office. But because Trump is still in power, “It is now 100 seconds to midnight.” Such was the ominous headline Thursday from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists after moving its Doomsday Clock ahead 20 seconds. In a press release, Bulletin President and CEO Rachel Bronson warned: “We are now expressing how close the world is to catastrophe in seconds—not hours, or even minutes. It is the closest to Doomsday we have ever been in the history of the Doomsday Clock. We now face a true emergency—an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin for error or further delay.”
The Bulletin’s statement blames the dire situation on nuclear war and climate change while warning that cyber-enabled information warfare compounds the problem by acting as a “threat multiplier.” The Bulletin has declared a state of emergency and calls for the “immediate, focused, and unrelenting attention of the entire world,” condemning international leaders for their “inaction—and in too many cases counterproductive actions.”
While it is true that many people around the world have contributed to the frightening creep toward midnight, it is the frightening creep in the White House who is the most to blame. Since the 1940s, when the Doomsday Clock was created, people have referred to the President of the United States as the leader of the free world, a term that speaks to the unique influence and responsibility inherent in that office. Unfortunately, Trump only knows how to lead us toward disaster. The statement, which largely avoids calling out world leaders by name, slams Trump for the “dire mistake” of withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement and for his failed negotiations with North Korea.
When Trump took office, the Doomsday Clock stood at a much safer three minutes to midnight. In less than a week, it moved ahead 30 seconds thanks to Trump’s “disturbing comments” on the campaign trail about nuclear proliferation and climate change denial. In 2018, the Doomsday Clock inched another 30 seconds closer to midnight, and now that 20 more seconds were just added, we find ourselves closer to Doomsday than ever. For the sake of our existence and for the love of our planet, Trump needs to leave office as soon as possible. It is not yet too late to turn back the clock.