Two minutes to midnight

The Doomsday Clock has been advanced to two minutes to midnight by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) [01]. They are a group of leading scientists and engineers founded by members of the original Manhattan Project. The setting of the Doomsday Clock is symbolic, where midnight is the time of the apocalypse: it is supposed to alert politicians and citizens around the world to the dangers our technologies (especially nuclear weapons) pose.

 

The clock has been set forward by half a minute by the BAS for a number of reasons including North Korea's development of nuclear missiles; the rise of distrust in the political system, news media and science, and world leaders' inaction on climate change. 

 

They said: "North Korea’s nuclear weapons program made remarkable progress in 2017, increasing risks to North Korea itself, to other countries in the region, and to the United States."  For instance, North Korea's Hawsong-15 Missile is now known to be able to strike as far as Washington DC [02], and if the North Korean media is to be believed, all of the US mainland is within range. This, combined with the continued aggression on both sides of the North Pacific Ocean, increases the tension in the area and makes the use of nuclear weapons more likely.

As Pirates, we firmly believe that the best way to run a country is through a free and fair democracy. Furthermore, we believe that nations that do not follow democratic principles will inevitably collapse from within as the residents seek the normal and natural human desire to express themselves. Therefore, autocratic states will fall whether or not we intervene, and although North Korea's maltreatment of its citizens is horrendous, it would be far worse to initiate offensive actions [05] [06]. As such, we must get used to the fact that we cannot easily solve the problem of North Korea, but should trust that it will fall eventually as other nations profit from the technological advances that autocracy hampers. In the meantime, we do not need to cooperate or engage with North Korea's regime. We do, however, commend the diplomatic progress achieved by both North and South Korea surrounding the Winter Olympics, and we note that this agreement was reached without foreign help.

 

North Korea was not the only issue cited in the BAS report. It was also observed that public trust in the media and in science has seen a sharp decline. This decline in trust has been exacerbated by the abuse of social media and by Donald Trump's railings against fake news [08] [09], which legitimise many outlets of poor quality that distort public vision on key topics such as climate change. The abuse of social media,combined with sophisticated hacking attempts designed to disrupt national elections, hampers the public's ability to force governments to take action on the things that they consider major threats [10] [11]. 

 

The increasing pace at which a variety of technologies are being developed is also worrying for the BAS. Issues such as (but not limited to) hacking of the Internet of Things, development of autonomous weaponry that kills without human supervision, and the potential misuse of synthetic biology such as the CRISPR gene editing tool are all destabilising factors that could tip the political system over the edge, cause a war that might go nuclear, or bring down society on their own. To combat these dangers, new institutions need to be founded with new ways to ensure that companies follow ethical guidance.

 

Finally, the BAS criticised inaction on climate change particle by the US which recently pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord [12]. They also pointed out how the Caribbean region, parts of North America, and the rest of the world are already feeling the effects of climate change in the form of increasingly powerful hurricanes, more severe heat waves and droughts (the most notable instance being the ongoing situationin Cape Town where residents will soon be limited to just 50 litres of water a day [13]), and devastating wildfires (such as the Thomas fire) [14]. The Arctic ice cap achieved its smallest ever winter maximum in 2017 (this is the third year in a row that this has happened). The BAS also noted that while it was a positive sign that many US institutions have decided to remain in the Paris Agreement (representing 40% of the population), the success of the Accord will depend largely on whether or not signatories actually act on their pledges and achieve their commitments - something that Pirate Parties around the world are fighting for.

 

The Pirate Party is a party of technology. We embrace new developments in science, the Internet, and all branches of technology, and we hope that the public and politicians can be encouraged to embracescience through education and transparency. Scientists, academic institutions (especially publishers), and industry must all be much more open about what they are developing and what the social impacts of those developments may be. They must also be encouraged (through legislation if necessary) to take the security and stability of their work extremely seriously. Finally, the public must be properly engaged with on the moral, ethical, and social impact of new scientific breakthroughs. [03] [04] [01]

 

The Pirate Party's policy regarding nuclear capability is to completely disarm the United Kingdom [C]. Even further than this, we advocate creating a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone in Europe [E], and support calls for a worldwide ban on depleted uranium weapons [D].

 

However, in light of the recent escalations, we would consider our national defence while continuing to emphasise that nuclear weapons put us at greater risk and do not make us safer. To further this aim, we would investigate implementing a missile defense grid or other similar mechanism to ensure that the UK is not under threat of nuclear attack whilst disarming.

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About Pirate Party UK

 

The Pirate Party in the UK is a fledgling political party. It has fielded a few candidates in European and National elections, but like most small parties it is significantly constrained by the UK electoral system. Despite this, the Pirate Party has started to poll alongside major parties and is looking to build support from the grassroots. The party stood 10 candidates in the June 2017 General Election.

 

Find out more about the UK Pirate Party at https://pirateparty.org.uk/ or contact [email protected] or chat with us in our discord chat room https://discord.pirateparty.org.uk

 

References:

[01]   https://thebulletin.org/sites/default/files/2018%20Doomsday%20Clock%20Statement.pdf

[02]   https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/28/the-missile-north-korea-launched-can-hit-washington-dc.html

[03]   https://futureoflife.org/2018/01/26/rewinding-the-doomsday-clock/

[04]   https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/26/donald-trump-kim-jong-un-nuclear-war-doomsday-clock

[05]   https://newrepublic.com/minutes/144258/nuclear-conflict-north-korea-even-dangerous-think

[06]   https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-would-war-with-north-korea-look-like

[07]   https://thebulletin.org/background-and-mission-1945-2018

[08]   https://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/26/politics/trump-fake-news-mueller-analysis/index.html

[09]   https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/25/how-trumps-fake-news-gave-authoritarian-leaders-a-new-weapon

[10]   https://www.newscientist.com/article/2142428-hacking-a-us-electronic-voting-booth-takes-less-than-90-minutes/

[11]   https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewweinreich/2017/06/14/the-future-of-online-voting-hacking-elections-and-the-first-u-s-online-voting-trial/

[12]   http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/06/01/trump-u-s-to-withdraw-from-paris-climate-pact-calls-it-unfair-for-america.html

[13]   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-42836560

[14]   https://www.vox.com/2017/12/27/16822180/thomas-fire-california-largest-wildfire

[A]     https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/policy/foreign-and-defence/home

[B]     https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/policy/environment/home

[C]     UK Nuclear Weapons Capability: https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/policy/foreign-and-defence/uk-nuclear-weapons-capability

[D]     Support a worldwide ban on depleted uranium weapons: https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/policy/foreign-and-defence/support-worldwide-ban-depleted-uranium-weapons

[E]     Support nuclear disarmament for europe: https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/policy/foreign-and-defence/support-nuclear-disarmament-europe

 

 

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