On January 24, 2023, at 10 a.m. EST, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will make the annual Doomsday Clock announcement, updating the symbolic representation of how close humanity is to destroying itself for the first time since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.
The Doomsday Clock will be reset at 10 a.m. EST on Jan. 24, 2023, in an announcement that will be live-streamed on the bulletin’s website and here.
The Doomsday Clock shows how close humanity is to self-destruction as illustrated by its minute hand approaching midnight, based upon the assessment of the smartest people in the world.
Several events suggest that the clock—now set at 100 seconds to midnight and the closest it has ever been to the point of annihilation—could tick even closer to the end.
Ukraine pleaded for the West to send it heavy tanks while former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, an ally of Kremlin chief Putin, warned NATO that the defeat of Russia’s invading forces could trigger a nuclear war.
The people’s Republic of China, which has long sought reunification with its breakaway province of Taiwan, has amped up aggressive activities in the region after President Joe Boden signed a bloated National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with a provision proposed by U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez—the Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act (TERA)—which was and called a deliberate and dangerous provocation by the Communist government.
Exactly what time has been chosen is a closely held secret by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a nonprofit science and security organization established in 1947 by veterans of the Manhattan Project.
Among its founders were Albert Einstein, J Robert Oppenheimer, and other scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project which produced the first nuclear weapons. The organization describes the clock as a “metaphor for how close humanity is to self-annihilation.”
A decision to reset the hands of the clock is made annually by the organization’s science and security board and its board of sponsors, which includes 11 Nobel laureates.
The original Doomsday Clock was set to seven minutes to midnight, and since then it has been moved 24 times.
The furthest it has ever been was 17 minutes, following the end of the Cold War in 1991.
The most recent change occurred in 2020 when it was moved from two minutes to midnight to 100 seconds to midnight, and the minute hand has remained in the same position since then.
“We are now expressing how close the world is to catastrophe in seconds — not hours, or even minutes. It is the closest to doomsday we have ever been in the history of the Doomsday Clock. We now face a true emergency — an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin for error or further delay,” Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the group, said in 2021.
There is doubt that time on the symbolic Doomsday Clock will remain set at 100 seconds until “midnight,” for the fourth year in a row, with experts calling new threats “disturbing” as recent events appear to be moving the minute hand ever closer to midnight.
For 2023, the board will take into account the Russia-Ukraine war, bio-threats, proliferation of nuclear weapons, the continued climate crisis, state-sponsored disinformation campaigns and disruptive technologies.
The catastrophic disruption of climate change was first considered as a deciding hand-setting factor in 2007, when the clock was moved from seven minutes to midnight to five minutes to midnight.
In 2018, the clock was set at two minutes to midnight, due to both nuclear risk and climate change, and in 2020 it was set 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been.
The clock could stay at this time, but observers feel that is unlikely since war has broken out in Europe and other potentially lethal conflicts appear to be brewing in both Asia and the Middle East, while virtually no progress has been made to relieve the threat of climate disaster and possible outbreaks of new pathogens that are unstoppable.
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