WASHINGTON, 25 Jan 2023:
The Doomsday Clock has been moved to 90 seconds before midnight – the closest humanity has been to global catastrophe, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced in its annual unveiling yesterday.
The decision to move the clock closer to midnight – which represents humanity’s doom – was largely but not exclusively due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, said Rachel Bronson, president of the organisation founded in 1947.
The Doomsday Clock had been at 100 seconds to midnight since 2020.
“We are living in a time of unprecedented danger, and the Doomsday Clock time reflects that reality. 90 seconds to midnight is the closest the Clock has ever been set to midnight, and it’s a decision our experts do not take lightly,” Bronson said in a press release.
“The US government, its Nato allies and Ukraine have a multitude of channels for dialogue; we urge leaders to explore all of them to their fullest ability to turn back the Clock.”
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists cited Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats as a contributing factor to moving the Doomsday Clock’s hands closer to midnight.
But other issues beyond war and the risk of escalation include the potential future pandemics in the wake of Covid19, the climate crisis, disinformation and the deterioration of international relations, the statement said.
Before 2020, the closest the Doomsday Clock had been to midnight was during the Cold War in 1953, when it was fixed at 11.58pm during a period in which the US and Soviet Russia were carrying out nuclear weapons tests.
The farthest from midnight it has been was 17 minutes, in 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was created in 1945 and its founders include Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer, as well as the University of Chicago students involved in the Manhattan Project – the US’ nuclear weapons programme that culminated in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
The Doomsday Clock began counting two years later.