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Doomsday clock moves to 90 seconds to midnight to signal how close we are to total annihilation

“We are living in a time of unprecedented danger, and the Doomsday Clock time reflects that reality," Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin, said.

Doomsday clock moves to 90 seconds to midnight to signal how close we are to total annihilation
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Amy Moneymaker

We all wonder when the world will come to an end. There was an earlier prediction that the year 2012 will be the end but that never happened. On Tuesday, January 24, the doomsday clock was set at 90 seconds until midnight. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said that it was closest to the hour it has ever been since 1947 when it warned about the dangers of a nuclear war, as reported by CNN. Midnight on the clock basically represents the moment when humans will have made the Earth uninhabitable. 

From 2020 to 2022, reportedly the clock was set at 100 seconds to midnight. The clock was not designed to assess the existential threats but to have conversations about difficult topics like climate change. The Bulletin said in a statement that the clock was set 10 seconds forward in 2023 due to the Russia-Ukraine war and the risk of nuclear escalation. Other things that led to the change in time were the climate crisis and Covid-19. 

Members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Siegfried S. Hecker, Daniel Holz, Sharon Squassoni, Mary Robinson and Elbegdorj Tsakhia stand for a photo with the 2023 Doomsday Clock - Getty Images | Amy Moneymaker
Members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Siegfried S. Hecker, Daniel Holz, Sharon Squassoni, Mary Robinson and Elbegdorj Tsakhia stand for a photo with the 2023 Doomsday Clock - Getty Images | Amy Moneymaker

 

Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin, said, “We are living in a time of unprecedented danger, and the Doomsday Clock time reflects that reality." She added, “It’s a decision our experts do not take lightly. 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 is basically a group of atomic scientists who were part of the Manhattan Project which was a code name for the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Initially, the organization was created to assess nuclear threats but in 2007, they decided to make climate change part of their calculations. 



 

 

The scientists change the clock's timing depending on how close humanity is to total destruction. They apparently change the timing some years and some years they don't. Moreover, the clock is set every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board experts after consulting with its Board of Sponsors, which has 11 Nobel laureates.

However, some people have even questioned the usefulness of this clock. Eryn MacDonald, an analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Global Security Program, said that the Bulletin has managed to get people's attention on important existential threats and the action that needs to be taken. She added, “While I wish we could go back to talking about minutes to midnight instead of seconds, unfortunately, that no longer reflects reality."

The 2023 Doomsday Clock is displayed before a live-streamed event with members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on January 24, 2023 - Getty Images | Amy Moneymaker
The 2023 Doomsday Clock is displayed before a live-streamed event with members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on January 24, 2023 - Getty Images | Amy Moneymaker

 

Talking about if the clock will ever reach midnight, Bronson said, “When the clock is at midnight, that means there’s been some sort of nuclear exchange or catastrophic climate change that’s wiped out humanity." She added, “We never really want to get there and we won’t know it when we do.” The main aim of the clock is to spark conversations about existential threats. According to Bronson whenever they are able to do that, it is a success.

Bronson added that she hopes people will discuss whether they agree with the Bulletin's decision and have conversations about the reasons behind the change. “We at the Bulletin believe that because humans created these threats, we can reduce them,” Bronson said. “But doing so is not easy, nor has it ever been. And it requires serious work and global engagement at all levels of society.”



 

 

She also said that one should not underestimate the power of talking about these issues with peers. "You might not feel it because you’re not doing anything, but we know that public engagement moves (a) leader to do things,” she said.

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