It’s 90 seconds to midnight. Doomsday Clock moves closer


Today, the scientists at The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of their famous Doomsday Clock the closest to midnight the clock has ever been.

Responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the less-than-veiled threats by Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to use nuclear weapons, the hands of the clock were moved to 90 seconds to midnight. The decision was based “largely but not exclusively” on the mounting dangers in Ukraine, said the Bulletin’s President and CEO, Rachel Bronson. An accidental escalation leading to nuclear war, as well as Russia’s reckless attacks on Ukraine’s nuclear power plants were also cited as compounding risks.

The clock, reset annually, had moved to 100 seconds to midnight in 2020. This was the closest it had ever been to signaling civilization-ending apocalypse, a persistent danger the scientists have described as “the new abnormal”. 

The move today even closer to midnight makes this the most dangerous moment in time since the Doomsday Clock was first launched in 1947 when it was set at seven minutes to midnight. By the end of the Cold War, the Clock was at 17 minutes to midnight.

The time set on the Clock takes into consideration the nuclear weapons threat as well as the perils of biological threats such as the Covid 19 pandemic, and the climate crisis, all of which are human-caused dangers. 

The possession and threats to use nuclear weapons by all nine nuclear weapons states, compounded by the failure of governments to act in time on climate change, have contributed to the grave dangers we now face. 

In addition to Russia’s war against Ukraine, there are rising tensions between North Korea, South Korea and the US, the rapid expansion of China’s nuclear weapons arsenal, nuclear weapons arsenals being “modernized” rather than eliminated, and the refurbishing and potential expansion of US nuclear weapons bases in Europe.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project.They created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. 

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