Humanity has never been closer to the risk of annihilation as atomic scientists re-set the ‘Doomsday Clock’ to just 90 seconds to midnight today.
he clock, created by the US-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to illustrate how close humanity has come to the end of the world, moved its “time” to 90 seconds to midnight.
This is 10 seconds closer than it has been for the past three years, as threats of nuclear war, climate change and disease have been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Midnight on the clock signals the end of the world or Armageddon and scientists fear that the threat of annihilation is growing as the war in Ukraine enters its second year next month.
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.
It began ticking at seven minutes to midnight then but was rolled back to 17 minutes to midnight – the furthest to ‘Doomsday yet’ in 1991 following the official end of the Cold War with the collapse of the Soviet Union and treaties signed by the US and Soviet Union to reduce their nuclear weapons arsenals.
The latest clock was unveiled in Washington by members of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and former Irish President Mary Robinson.
The clock has now moved closer to midnight than ever before, Rachel Bronson, the bulletin’s president and CEO, told a news conference.
“Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict by accident, intention or miscalculation is a terrible risk. The possibilities that the conflict could spin out of anyone’s control remains high,” she said.
She added that the Chicago-based non-profit organisation has announced the clock’s annual re-set for the first time in Russian and Ukrainian in order to garner attention there.
The clock is re-set based on the most up-to-date information on catastrophic risks to the planet and humanity by the organisation’s board of scientists and experts in nuclear technology and climate.
The clock had been set to 100 seconds to midnight since 2020, which was already the closest it had ever come to midnight previously.
The board said the war in Ukraine had also heightened the risk that biological weapons could be deployed if the conflict continued.
“The continuing stream of disinformation about bioweapons’ laboratories in Ukraine raises concerns that Russia itself may be thinking of deploying such weapons,” Ms Bronson said.
Sivan Kartha, a bulletin board member and scientist at the Stockholm Environmental Institute, said natural gas prices pushed to new heights by the war had also spurred companies to develop sources of natural gas outside of Russia and turned power plants to coal as an alternative power source.
“Global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, after having rebounded from the Covid economic decline to an all-time-high in 2021, continue to rise in 2022 and hit another record high…With emissions still rising, weather extremes continue, and were even more clearly attributable to climate change,” Kartha said, pointing to the devastating flooding in Pakistan in 2022 as an example.
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