Atomic scientists who set the “Doomsday Clock” each year on Tuesday estimated that they believe humanity in 2023 is closer to annihilation than ever before. The clock is now set at 90 seconds to midnight, reflecting the gravest danger ever.
Among the factors indicating unprecedented peril for humanity is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and simmering tensions in China, where the US is prodding Taiwan to beef up its military.
The “Doomsday Clock” is a symbolic timepiece showing how close the world is to ending due to nuclear war, catastrophic climate changes, or other man-made existential threats.
Apocalyptic threats could also arise from political tensions, weapons, technology, climate change, and even pandemic illness.
Midnight represents the theoretical point of annihilation.
The hands of the clock are moved closer to or further away from midnight based on the reading of existential threats at a particular time by scientists who are among the smartest people in the world.
A Chicago-based non-profit organization called the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists updates the Doomsday Clock annually based on information regarding catastrophic risks to humanity and the planet and displays the “time” on its website.
A board of scientists and other experts in nuclear technology and climate science, including 13 Nobel laureates, discuss world events and determine where to place the hands of the clock each year.
The clock was created in 1947 by a group of atomic scientists, including Albert Einstein, who had worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the world’s first nuclear weapons during World War II.
At 100 seconds to midnight, the “Doomsday Clock” is now the closest it has ever been to midnight. It was set there in 2020 and has remained there since.
This year, its setting will reflect for the first time a world in which Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has revived fears of nuclear war.
The clock started ticking, more than 75 years ago, at seven minutes to midnight.
At 17 minutes to midnight, the clock was furthest from doomsday in 1991, as the Cold War ended and the United States and Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that substantially reduced both countries’ nuclear weapons arsenals.