WASHINGTON (CBS SF / CBS Local) – In one of his first public appearances since leaving office, former California Gov. Jerry Brown issued a dire warning about potential global catastrophe from nuclear attack at the annual Doomsday Clock announcement Thursday.
Brown spoke at the annual announcement by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,’ who said the world remains at 11:58 p.m. due to nuclear threats and climate change.
The former governor was critical about what he calls politicians’ “blindness and stupidity” on the issue of preventing a potential nuclear catastrophe.
“So we’re almost like passengers on the Titanic. Not seeing the iceberg up ahead, but enjoying the elegant dining and the music. The business of everyday politics blinds people to the risk. We’re playing Russian roulette with humanity. And the danger and the probability is mounting that there will be some nuclear incident that will kill millions, if not initiating exchanges that will kill billions,” the former governor said.
Two minutes to midnight equals the Doomsday Clock’s closest time to midnight in its history. It was set there for the first time in 1953 and then again last year.
“Though unchanged from 2018, this setting should be taken not as a sign of stability but as a stark warning to leaders and citizens around the world,” the group said. “The current international security situation—what we call the “new abnormal”—has extended over two years now.”
Climate change also poses a growing threat, the scientists said. Global carbon dioxide emissions rose in 2017 and 2018. The 2015 Paris climate agreement “has become increasingly beleaguered,” especially after the United States said it would withdraw from the pact.
On the issue of nuclear threats, the group cited strained U.S.-Russian relations, the U.S. pullout from the INF and Iraq arms deals, and the continued threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program.
“Although the United States and North Korea moved away from the bellicose rhetoric of 2017, the urgent North Korean nuclear dilemma remains unresolved. Meanwhile, the world’s nuclear nations proceeded with programs of “nuclear modernization” that are all but indistinguishable from a worldwide arms race, and the military doctrines of Russia and the United States have increasingly eroded the long-held taboo against the use of nuclear weapons.”
The clock was first set at two minutes to midnight in 1953 after the United States tested a hydrogen bomb and Russian exploded a thermonuclear device. Those events set off a decades long nuclear arms race.
While Brown retired from state politics earlier this month after a record four terms as governor, the 80-year-old does not appear to be slowing down in his efforts to raise awareness on causes he is passionate about.
“And that’s what I intend to do, and I will spend the next few years doing everything I can to sound the alarm and get us back on the track of dialogue, collaboration and arms control,” Brown concluded.