World reaches its closest point of annihilation: Doomsday Clock

The ‘Doomsday Clock’ came closest to the literal moment of doom on Tuesday. Atomic scientists set the ‘Doomsday Clock’ just 90 seconds short of midnight, citing the threats of nuclear war, disease and climate change as determinant factors amid geopolitical volatility led by ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

What is the Doomsday Clock?

The ‘Doomsday Clock’ is created by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It illustrates how close humanity has come to the end of the world.

It moved its ‘time’ in 2023 to 90 seconds to midnight, 10 seconds closer than it has been for the past three years.

What does midnight on Doomsday Clock mean?

The midnight on this clock marks the theoretical point of annihilation.

The clock’s hands are moved closer to or further away from midnight based on scientists’ reading of existential threats at a particular time.

At present, the situation in Ukraine aggravated by the Russian actions has raised the proximity of the world to its theoretical annihilation.

“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,” Rachel Bronson, the bulletin’s president and CEO told a news conference in Washington on Tuesday.

A Chicago-based non-profit organization, the bulletin updates the clock’s time annually based on information regarding catastrophic risks to the planet and humanity.

Apocalyptic threats reflected by the clock include politics, weapons, technology, climate change and pandemics.

The clock had been set to 100 seconds to midnight since 2020, which was already the closest it had ever come to midnight.

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,” Bronson said.

Sivan Kartha, a bulletin board member and scientist at the Stockholm Environmental Institute, pointed to the economic uncertainty added with climate  change as reasons behind the theoretical proximity of the world to its annihilation. 

“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.

In 1947, the clock began ticking 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 a treaty that substantially reduced both countries’ nuclear weapons arsenals.

(With inputs from agencies)


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