EDITORIAL: Dont let the Doomsday Clock strike midnight

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recently moved the “doomsday clock” — their symbol of how close our world is to nuclear annihilation — two minutes closer to midnight.

The clock now stands at five minutes to midnight, having been moved forward 12 minutes since 1991.

In their report, the scientists cite “the presence of 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia.” They also note that “the dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those of nuclear weapons.”

All nations have a basic obligation to cut pollution to the minimum, and no nation — no matter what its reason — has the right to increase the nuclear danger. We condemn all actions by any country that jeopardize the further existence of humanity.

But there is no getting around the fact that the United States, especially under the Bush administration, has been the most destructive toward efforts aimed at both nuclear disarmament and environmental protection.

Though the U.S. produces more greenhouse gas emissions per capita than any other nation on earth, our country has not signed the Kyoto Treaty. Concerning nuclear weapons, it is widely recognized that the Bush administration wrecked the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty review conference in 2005, and Washington still refuses to sign a treaty banning nuclear testing.

Through threatening rhetoric or by turning a blind eye, the administration has pushed others toward nuclear weaponry.

As the world’s biggest polluter and the biggest nuclear power, the U.S. needs to change course: Our country must accept Kyoto and other treaties and work to cap greenhouse gas emissions. Dialogue needs to replace brinkmanship in dealing with Iran and North Korea. We need to begin to unilaterally disarm our own nuclear weapons, the largest stockpile in the world.

Bush would never dream of such a thing. But the voters spoke in November. They don’t want any more of the Bush agenda. It’s up to the new Democratic majority and the people’s movements to pull us back — by at least a few minutes — now!