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Scientists advance doomsday clock

WASHINGTON — The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says Earth is now closer to human-caused doomsday than it has been in more than 30 years because of global warming and nuclear weaponry. But other experts say that’s way too gloomy.

The advocacy group founded by the creators of the atomic bomb moved their famed ‘‘doomsday clock’’ ahead two minutes on Thursday. It said the world is now three minutes from a catastrophic midnight, instead of five minutes.

‘‘This is about doomsday; this is about the end of civilization as we know it,’’ bulletin executive director Kennette Benedict said at a news conference in Washington.

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She called both climate change and modernization of nuclear weaponry equal but undeniable threats to humanity that triggered the 20 scientists on the board to decide to move the clock ahead.

‘‘The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon,’’ Benedict said.

Other scientists aren’t quite so pessimistic.

Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of both geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University, said in an e-mail: ‘‘I suspect that humans will ‘muddle through’ the climate situation much as we have muddled through the nuclear weapons situation — limiting the risk with cooperative international action and parallel domestic policies.’’

The bulletin has included climate change in its doomsday clock since 2007.

Associated Press