[FOUNTAIN]Crisis consciousness clocksThe clock is one of the things that has developed along with the evolution of human civilization, with a history dating back 6,000 years. There are various types of clocks, including the gnomon, which indicates time by utilizing the relationship of the sun to its shadow, the water clock, pendulum clock and atomic clock.
In the 20th century, new clocks were devised to alert human beings to impending crisis. The Doomsday Clock, which gives a warning of the danger of nuclear war, is one of those clocks.
The Doomsday Clock has been operated by the University of Chicago since 1947, when it first appeared on the cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The publication was founded in 1945 at the university by some of those involved in the development of the atom bomb.
The clock’s hands pointed to seven minutes before midnight on its first appearance and it has served as a gauge of the threat of nuclear destruction ever since. In 1953, the Doomsday Clock pointed to two minutes before midnight ― the closest point it has ever reached. At that time, the United States and the Soviet Union were competing to develop a hydrogen bomb after the arms race over the atom bomb.
In 1991, when a more peaceful mood prevailed after the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to reductions in their nuclear stockpiles, the clock pointed to 17 minutes before midnight. But in 1995 the clock was moved to 14 minutes before midnight after the two superpowers failed to implement the second phase of arms reduction. In 1998, when both India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons, the clock pointed to nine minutes to midnight.
Mankind dreamed of a hopeful millennium in the 21st century. But the crisis is much more elevated at the dawn of the 21st century than it was at the end of the 20th century. The clock was set to seven minutes before midnight in February 2002 as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, among other factors.
Human beings are experiencing unprecedentedly rapid environmental disasters all over the world this year.
Typhoon Maemi, the Saemangeum reclamation project, the proposed Wido nuclear waste disposal facility and the North Korean nuclear crisis ― in the middle of all these baffling questions, what time will the crisis consciousness clock of Koreans point to?
by Kim Seok-hwan
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
More in Columns
An unjust society
International law is the answer
[20th Anniversary] New decade, new home
[20th Anniversary] First draft of Korea's history, day by day, over the past two decades
[20th Anniversary] A new form of globalism is on the rise