Articles by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

We found 57 results.


2018 Doomsday Clock: It Is Now Two Minutes to Midnight
Rachel Bronson, PhD | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 29 Jan 2018

25 Jan 2018 – The year just past proved perilous and chaotic, a year in which many of the risks foreshadowed in our last Clock statement came into full relief. Although the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists focuses on nuclear risk, climate change, and emerging technologies, the nuclear landscape takes center stage in this year’s Clock statement.

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Suing Oil Companies to Pay for Climate Change?
Seth Shulman | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 9 Oct 2017

A new peer-reviewed study published in the journal Climatic Change sheds new light on fossil fuel producers’ liability. While previous research had shown that a relative handful of companies were responsible for more than 60 percent of greenhouse gases, the authors of the new study succeeded in tracing specific climate damages—including increased temperatures and sea level rise—to the products sold by individual companies such as Chevron and ExxonMobil.

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When Science Brought Americans and Russians Together
Siegfried S. Hecker | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 17 Apr 2017

11 Apr 2017 – The first Russian explosive device to land on US soil wasn’t delivered by a Russian missile, as Americans feared might happen throughout the Cold War. It was delivered by FedEx. The device, an explosive magnetic flux compression generator, arrived at Los Alamos National Laboratory in late 1993, shipped from the Russian Federal Nuclear Center.

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A Better Mousetrap?
David Krieger | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 27 Mar 2017

23 Mar 2017 – Albert Einstein noted, “Mankind invented the atomic bomb, but no mouse would ever construct a mousetrap.” We humans have created the equivalent of a mousetrap for ourselves. And we’ve constructed tens of thousands of them over the seven decades of the Nuclear Age.

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A Nuclear Weapons Ban Should First Do No Harm to the NPT
Adam Mount and Richard Nephew | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 13 Mar 2017

Simple additions to the text of a new ban treaty would keep it from being used as a cover for non-compliance with the existing non-proliferation regime.

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How US Nuclear Force Modernization Is Undermining Strategic Stability: The Burst-Height Compensating Super-Fuze
Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie and Theodore A. Postol | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 6 Mar 2017

How the United States nuclear forces modernization program has been mischaracterized to the general public as a reasonable effort to update the safety of US nuclear warheads. The reality of the program is instead an implementation of revolutionary new technologies that have serious implications for strategic stability and international perceptions of US nuclear intentions.

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Europe Should Act Fast to Preserve the Iran Nuclear Deal
Ellie Geranmayeh – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 6 Feb 2017

The Trump administration’s evolving policy on Iran has become a source of concern across the Atlantic. And that was even before National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s declaration on Wednesday [1 Feb] that the United States was “putting Iran on notice.”

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Reality: Humanity Can’t Indefinitely Avoid Using Nuclear Weapons
Mustafa Kibaroglu – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 6 Feb 2017

Even “realists” ought to realize that most leaders controlling nuclear weapons today can’t necessarily be trusted to behave rationally. The second round closes in our debate over a UN committee’s resolution that would mandate negotiations toward a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons.

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Doomsday Clock Moves Ahead: It Is Now Two and a Half Minutes to Midnight
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 30 Jan 2017

26 Jan 2017 – It is now two and a half minutes to midnight. For the first time in the 70-year history of the Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board has moved the hands of the iconic clock 30 seconds closer to midnight. In another first, the Board has decided to act, in part, based on the words of a single person: Donald Trump, the new President of the United States.

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Global Nuclear Power Database, 1951-2017
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 16 Jan 2017

Our new data visualization puts a wealth of information on 60 years of nuclear power plant startups and shutdowns at your fingertips.

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To Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Strip Away Their Handsome Mask
Mustafa Kibaroglu | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 16 Jan 2017

The golden age of deterrence has reached its end. Nuclear weapons, once a star player on the international stage, no longer enjoy a place in the limelight.

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The Real German Submarine Scandal
Victor Gilinsky | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 9 Jan 2017

Israel is absorbed with a “submarine scandal” that centers on its contract with Germany. But the real scandal is that Germany supplies the submarines at all, through a loophole in the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The submarines are built to carry long-range Israeli cruise missiles armed with nuclear weapons.

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The Value in Activism: Reflections from the Columbia University Climate Sit-In
Nikita Perumal | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 19 Dec 2016

When the status quo—in this case, the political and social power of extractive and destructive industries—is too strong to be undone on its own, it sometimes needs a push. I believe, wholeheartedly, that activism is that push. It is our way of reclaiming power, and catalyzing the policy changes that we so desperately need for a more just world.

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What If Nuclear Weapons Are Used?
Victor Gilinsky – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 21 Nov 2016

In the 1959 movie, On the Beach, a survivor of nuclear war asks, “If everyone was so smart, why didn’t they see this coming?” Exactly. Stop and think about what may be coming if we don’t act. Above all, when it comes to nuclear weapons, we should not allow ourselves to just drift into the future. We need to look ahead as best we can and steer in a safer direction.

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United States Nuclear Forces, 2016
Hans M. Kristensen & Robert S. Norris | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 31 Oct 2016

Published online: 2 March 2016

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Just 90 Companies Are Accountable for More Than 60 Percent of Greenhouse Gases
Dan Drollette Jr | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 31 Oct 2016

27 Oct 2016 – There’s a tendency to think that when it comes to climate change, we’re all equally at fault—and if everyone is to blame, then no one is to blame. But now it’s possible to identify the contributions of individual companies, thanks to the work of researchers such as Richard Heede. What he found is revealing.

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Russian Nuclear Forces, 2016
Hans M. Kristensen & Robert S. Norris | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 31 Oct 2016

Published online: 15 April 2016

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Why Obama Should Declare a No-First-Use Policy for Nuclear Weapons
Ramesh Thakur | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists - TRANSCEND Media Service, 29 Aug 2016

An American no-first-use commitment would reduce the risk of nuclear war at a time when arsenals are growing and tensions are mounting, particularly in Asia

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Why Americans Love Drones
Julia M. Macdonald and Jacquelyn G. Schneider | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists - TRANSCEND Media Service, 29 Aug 2016

The authors point out that if either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is looking to US public opinion for cues on formulating drone policy, then we can expect a continued emphasis on drones as part of US foreign policy. Why does the US public love drones?

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Missile Proliferation—And Ideas That Might Work
Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu | Brookings India Center - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11 Jul 2016

Missiles pose at least three sets of challenges to international peace and security, and creating a global regime to control or eliminate nuclear-capable missiles is easier said than done. Is it too late for missile nonproliferation?

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The Double-Edged Sword: US Nuclear Command and Control Modernization
Andrew Futter | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 4 Jul 2016

Keeping the nuclear command and control system simple, separate, and secure may not seem very sexy in today’s digital world of extraordinary technological advance, but it might be the best way to minimize miscalculation, accidents, and even unauthorized use of nuclear weapons.

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It’s Time for Transparency in the US Lethal Drone Program
Rachel Stohl | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 20 Jun 2016

Civilian casualties have raised a number of legal and ethical questions regarding use of this technology, particularly outside of active combat zones. Central to this debate is the secrecy surrounding the US lethal drone program, including a lack of official information on casualty figures and accountability for mistakes.

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Chernobyl Fatalities and the Challenges of Expert Judgment
Sonja Schmid – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 16 May 2016

As the uncertainty over Chernobyl’s death toll illustrates, “scientific opinion” is not always unanimous, and neither is “expert judgment.” Scientific expertise is not immune to controversy. And expert judgment changes over time.

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The Value in Activism: Reflections from the Columbia University Climate Sit-In
Nikita Perumal – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 16 May 2016

I know—I have seen—the transformative power that climate justice activism can have both on Columbia’s campus and internationally. When the status quo—in this case, the political and social power of extractive and destructive industries—is too strong to be undone on its own, it sometimes needs a push. I believe, wholeheartedly, that activism is that push.

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It Is Still 3 Minutes to Midnight
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 2 May 2016

The Doomsday Clock is an internationally recognized design that conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons, but the dangers include climate-changing technologies, emerging biotechnologies, and cybertechnology that could inflict irrevocable harm, whether by intention, miscalculation, or by accident, to our way of life and to the planet.

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Nuclear Emergencies and the Masters of Improvisation
Sonja Schmid – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2 May 2016

April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, and those old enough to remember the event can recall the explosion, the evacuation, and the dread. But they rarely remember an immense milestone in the response to the disaster: the completion in November 1986 of a concrete encasement of Chernobyl’s reactor number four. Workers drawn from all across the Soviet Union built this “sarcophagus” under extreme radiological conditions, on the ruins of the destroyed reactor.

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Learning from Nuclear Accidents, Expanding Nuclear Energy
Augustin Simo – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2 May 2016

The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 was caused by factors including a flawed reactor design, insufficient training of plant operators, and a lack of nuclear safety culture.

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What Does “Nuclear Terrorism” Really Mean?
Elisabeth Eaves – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 18 Apr 2016

There are few scarier pairs of words: “nuclear,” evoking the great 20th century fear of atomic annihilation, and “terrorism,” the bogeyman of the 21st. Put them together and you’ve got a frightening specter.

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Nuclear Security: Continuous Improvement or Dangerous Decline?
Matthew Bunn, Martin B. Malin, Nickolas Roth and William Tobey - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 4 Apr 2016

The answer will shape the chances that terrorist groups, including the Islamic State, could get their hands on the materials they need to build a crude nuclear bomb. In a report (pdf file) we published late in March, we outline the shape of the threat and the steps that must be taken to keep potential nuclear bomb material out of terrorist hands.

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Contaminated Nuclear Weapons Sites
Robert Alvarez – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 22 Feb 2016

West Lake Story: An Underground Fire, Radioactive Waste, and Governmental Failure

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Climate Protection through Nuclear Power Plants? Hardly
Lutz Mez – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 22 Feb 2016

From a systemic perspective, nuclear power plants are by no means free of carbon dioxide emissions. Today, they produce up to one third of the greenhouse gases that large modern gas power plants produce.

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Doomsday Clock Hands Remain Unchanged, Despite Iran Deal and Paris Talks
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEDEND Media Service, 1 Feb 2016

January 26, 2016 – The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board announced today that the minute hand of its closely watched Doomsday Clock will remain at three minutes to midnight, since recent progress in the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate accord “constitute only small bright spots in a darker world situation full of potential for catastrophe.”

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Nuclear Expert Siegfried Hecker Assesses North Korean Hydrogen Bomb Claims
Steve Fyffe, Stanford Center for Int’l Security and Cooperation – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11 Jan 2016

7 Jan 2015 – One of the world’s top experts on the North Korean nuclear program, former Los Alamos National Laboratory director Siegfried Hecker has visited North Korea seven times since 2004; he is one of the few Western scientists to have set foot inside the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

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Arms-Control Lessons from the Volkswagen Scandal
Moritz Kütt – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 14 Dec 2015

Volkswagen got away with this legerdemain for years because, like most carmakers, it uses proprietary software to control its engines and other systems, software that still is not available to vehicle inspectors or independent analysts. Arms-control verification relies on similarly complex combinations of software and hardware, and verification tools often use proprietary or export-controlled technology that prevents transparency and independent scrutiny.

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Is Artificial Intelligence Really an Existential Threat to Humanity?
Edward Moore Geist – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 17 Aug 2015

With intellectual powers beyond human comprehension, Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom prognosticates, self-improving artificial intelligences could effortlessly enslave or destroy Homo sapiens if they so wished.

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Japan: Why Was the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant Restarted?
Tadahiro Katsuta – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 17 Aug 2015

The decision is probably based on the “dismal science” of economics, not safety. The justification for a restart was based upon three key points. Let us look at each of these items in turn.

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Should Nuclear Devices Be Used to Stop Asteroids?
Seth Baum – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 22 Jun 2015

Given that asteroids and comets pose a significant risk of a low-probability extreme catastrophe, and given that the alternative means of deflecting them do not work as well, an anti-NEOs (near-Earth objects) nuclear stockpile merits serious consideration.

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In Imitation of Christ: Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Climate Change
Celia Deane-Drummond – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 22 Jun 2015

Small yet strong in the love of God, like Saint Francis of Assisi, all of us, as Christians, are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its peoples

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Is Stratospheric Geoengineering Worth the Risk?
Seth Baum – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 15 Jun 2015

There is at least one way that stratospheric geoengineering could be even more dangerous than regular global warming.

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Nuclear Fuel Cycle Cost Calculator
Robert Rosner, Jeremy Klavans and Sam Olofin – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 8 Jun 2015

Discussions of the future of nuclear power often focus on safety, proliferation, waste storage, and carbon emissions – accepting cost as a given. This tool breaks the cost of investing in nuclear power into its component parts and considers the price of three configurations of the ‘fuel cycle.’

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The Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 4 May 2015

28 Apr 2015 – The NPT Review Conference is taking place from now until May 22 in New York City. Adam Mount explains what it is and how this year’s conference is likely to be a dismal failure.

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Safety—The Overlooked Crucial Issue in Iranian Nuclear Negotiations
Ariane Tabatabai – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 20 Apr 2015

Nuclear safety is about preventing and mitigating accidents, and making sure that nuclear facilities operate properly and don’t pose a radiation hazard to people or places. It is not a sexy topic. But along with proliferation, it is one of the most pressing issues to consider in the context of any nuclear program.

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What Would Happen If an 800-Kiloton Nuclear Warhead Detonated above Midtown Manhattan?
Steven Starr, Lynn Eden & Theodore A. Postol – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 23 Mar 2015

After one second, the fireball would be roughly a mile in diameter. It would have cooled from its initial temperature of many millions of degrees to about 16,000 degrees Fahrenheit, roughly 4,000 degrees hotter than the surface of the sun.

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The Myth of Biological Weapons as the Poor Man’s Atomic Bomb
Gregory D. Koblentz – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 23 Mar 2015

In his recent column, “Deterrence, without nuclear winter,” Seth Baum concludes that non-contagious biological weapons are one of two viable alternatives to replacing nuclear weapons in order to achieve what he calls “winter-safe deterrence.”

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Doomsday Clockwork
Kennette Benedict – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 16 Mar 2015

Over the last 68 years, the Bulletin has reset the minute hand on the Doomsday Clock 21 times, most recently this year when we moved it from five minutes to midnight to three. Every time it is reset, we’re flooded with questions about the internationally recognized symbol. Here are answers to some of the most frequent queries.

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Nuclear Notebook, the Interactive Edition
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 9 Mar 2015

At the click of a mouse, our new multimedia presentation tracks world nuclear arsenals over seven decades.

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Out of the Nuclear Shadow: Scientists and the Struggle against the Bomb
Zia Mian – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 9 Mar 2015

Mian argues that absent an aroused and insistent public demanding an end to nuclear weapons, which the early scientists believed was necessary to curb the nuclear danger, the prospects for nuclear disarmament in the foreseeable future appear grim. He concludes: “This is where the scientist has to step aside and the citizen has to step forward.”

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Where Does Iran’s Supreme Leader Really Stand on Nuclear Negotiations?
Ariane Tabatabai – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 23 Feb 2015

“Not reaching a deal would be better than a bad deal.” – Khamenei. This moment is a unique opportunity for Iranian negotiators to make a comprehensive deal they can sell to domestic hardliners, using the momentum provided by the country’s highest political authority.

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Timeline: The IPCC’s Shifting Position on Nuclear Energy
Suzanne Waldman - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 16 Feb 2015

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed in 1988 as an expert panel to guide the drafting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, ratified in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The treaty’s objective is to stabilize greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a safe level.

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It Is 3 Minutes to Midnight in the Doomsday Clock
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 26 Jan 2015

23 Jan 2015: Unchecked climate change and the nuclear arms race have pushed the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock forward to three minutes closer to midnight, announced in Washington DC members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the body behind the calculations and creation of the Clock of Doom in 1947.

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The Struggle to Ban Killer Robots
Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, Nicholas Marsh and Maral Mirshahi – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 26 May 2014

The campaign must balance technical expert conversations with active participation in public debate. Identifying and arguing for broad ethical principles while keeping the objective narrow appears to be the most feasible strategy, along with insisting that the development of lethal autonomous weapons is not inevitable.

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The WIPP-Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Problem, and What It Means for Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal
Robert Alvarez – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 31 Mar 2014

“It’s a surprise when there are no surprises,” a cleanup worker told me a few years ago at the Hanford site in Washington state, once the world’s largest producer of plutonium for nuclear weapons and now home to a massive effort to stop leaking nuclear waste tanks from poisoning the Columbia River.

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Five Minutes Is Too Close
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 20 Jan 2014

From: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board.
To: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, members of the UN Security Council.
Re: It is still five minutes to midnight.

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The Doomsday Clock
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 21 Jan 2013

21 Jan 2013: IT IS FIVE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT – The Doomsday Clock conveys how close humanity is to catastrophic destruction–the figurative midnight–and monitors the means humankind could use to obliterate itself. First and foremost, these include nuclear weapons, but they also encompass climate-changing technologies and new developments in the life sciences that could inflict irrevocable harm.

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Doomsday Clock Moves to Five Minutes to Midnight
Science and Security Board, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – TRANSCEND Media Service, 16 Jan 2012

It is five minutes to midnight. Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed. For that reason, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving the clock hand one minute closer to midnight, back to its time in 2007.

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The Road Not Taken: Can Fukushima Put Us on a Path toward Nuclear Transparency?
Kennette Benedict – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 27 Jun 2011

The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station is a sobering reminder that nuclear power relies on the most dangerous technology on Earth. Despite victories like the creation of the Atomic Energy Commission, and later the Nuclear Regular Commission, the secrecy that began with the Manhattan Project has tended to permeate the civilian nuclear program, as well as the military and defense programs.

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The Lessons of Fukushima
Hugh Gusterson – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 4 Apr 2011

This leaves us with a choice between walking back from a technology that we decide is too dangerous or normalizing the risks of nuclear energy and accepting that an occasional Fukushima is the price we have to pay for a world with less carbon dioxide. It is wishful thinking to believe there is a third choice of nuclear energy without nuclear accidents.

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