The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on Tuesday announced that it has set the Doomsday Clock to 90 seconds to midnight, highlighting the fact that the world has come closer to catastrophe than ever. A group of scientists, accompanied by former Mongolian president Elbegdorj Tsakhia and former Ireland President Mary Robinson, revealed the clock at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. This is the first time the scientific body has evaluated the clock since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 with President Vladimir Putin not completely ruling out the possibility of using nuclear weapons in the war.
However, the war in Ukraine was not the only reason for the Doomsday Clock- the metaphorical warning of threats to humanity- to be moved to the closest to twelve it has ever been. The ongoing threats posed by climate change and the collapse of global institutions and norms necessary to reduce the risks connected with developing technologies and biological threats like COVID-19 also had an impact on the new Doomsday Clock time.
Due in part to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced its Doomsday Clock has been set to 90 seconds to midnight— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 25, 2023
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Referring to the new time, Mary Robinson, former U.N High Commissioner for Human Rights said, “For all of humanity, the Doomsday Clock is sounding an alarm. We are standing at the edge of a cliff. However, to ensure a peaceful and habitable planet, our leaders are not acting quickly enough.”
Other serious threats to humanity discussed by scientists and activists at the Bulletin announcement included the proliferation of nuclear weapons in China, Iran’s increasing uranium enrichment, North Korea’s missile tests, potential pandemics from animal diseases, pathogens from lab errors and disruptive technologies.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists analyses the situation across the globe and provides a new Doomsday time every year in the month of January. Previously, the Doomsday Clock was set 100 seconds to midnight in 2020. Since then, the second hand had been fixed in that position. After the end of the Cold War, it had been updated from 17 minutes to midnight, but in recent years, the organisation has switched from counting down minutes to ticking down seconds in recent years.
Renowned scientist Albert Einstein, joined hands with some other researchers who were behind the development of the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project and founded the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1945. There have been numerous Nobel laureates among its members over the years.