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The Doomsday Clock is ticking: three minutes to midnight…

Posted on 1 June 2016

The 2016 York Festival of Ideas launches this year with a night exploring the findings of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists latest Doomsday report placing us at ‘three minutes to midnight’ to humanity’s closeness to catastrophe.

York Festival of Ideas logo

A panel of world-class speakers, including Sivan Kartha, a member of the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board, The Economist’s Oliver Morton and Beyza Unal of Chatham House, will discuss the biggest threats to humanity based on the ongoing threat of climate change, nuclear weapons and geopolitical tensions.

The Doomsday Clock was created by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists nearly 70 years ago as an annual measure of threats to humankind. Every year, 20 board members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists meet to reassess our proximity to midnight.

The closest the Doomsday Clock has ever been was in 1953 when the first tests on the hydrogen bomb were conducted. In January, the latest report places us once again dangerously close to disaster.

Joan Concannon, Director of the Festival of Ideas, said: “Our Festival launch night will explore the findings and recommendations of the Doomsday report: how do we combat the threat of climate change and the proliferation of nuclear arms in fragile states? What kind of multi-lateral agreements will be effective? A chaired discussion, exhibitions and demonstrations will commence our sixth annual Festival.”

Leo Winkley, Head Master of St Peter’s School, said: “We are delighted to be working once again with our friends at the York Festival of Ideas in hosting this outstanding event. As a centre of learning, we believe in the power of ideas. It is particularly crucial that the educational community engages the young in such important and thought-provoking events - it is the next generation, and their experiences and approaches, that will shape the future and guide the hands of the Doomsday Clock.”

In partnership with St Peter’s School and the University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the free event will take place at St Peter’s School from 6 – 8.45pm on Tuesday 7 June.

Speaker details:

Sivan Kartha, a member of the Science and Security Board, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and Senior Scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute, will present the key findings of the latest Doomsday Clock report as well as the report’s recommendations on required urgent actions.

Oliver Morton, Briefings Editor of The Economist will present his recently published book, The Planet Remade, which explores the huge changes made by people to our planet – often in ways that have been far more profound than realised and which can fundamentally help us respond to climate change. Oliver will explore the moral implication of our responses to climate change and try to reimagine a world where people take care instead of taking control.

Beyza Unal, a Research Fellow with the International Security Department at Chatham House, who specialises in nuclear weapons policies, will discuss reducing risks of nuclear confrontation while managing global security issues.

Further information:

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