Like the sand of the hourglass, the world slides toward self-destruction one second at a time, the The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists ended Thursday, once again setting the hands of the famous Doomsday clock to 100 seconds to midnight.
For the third year in a row, the clock has been set in seconds, not minutes, to show the urgency behind the metaphor of Earth’s proximity to annihilation.
“Stability is not good news. In fact, it reflects the board’s judgment that we are stuck in a perilous moment, which brings neither stability nor security,” Sharon Squassoni, co-chair of the Bulletin’s Science and Security Council and professor at the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy in George Washington University, said at a press conference.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the clock in 1947 to represent how close the planet was to annihilation by nuclear weapons. In recent years, the review has also weighed the effects of climate change and other emerging threats in setting the clock.
On the seventy-fifth anniversary of the clock, the bulletin’s experts described a host of threats facing the world, from disinformation fueling division, rising global tensions fueling a nuclear arms race, a pandemic highlighting the nation’s inability to combat increasingly frequent epidemics, and climate change exacerbating natural disasters and global instability.
The group noted that power struggles continue to heighten the risk of world destruction, with the extension of the New START nuclear treaty offset by nuclear ambitions in Iran, North Korea, India and Pakistan, while competition between the United States, China and Russia only adds to instability on the security front.
“The doomsday clock is not set by good intentions, but rather by evidence of action, or in this case inaction,” Scott D. Sagan, a professor at the Stanford University. “The signs of nuclear arms races are clear.”
Disinformation has also played a particularly notable role in keeping the clock at the closest point to midnight in history, with experts noting its impact on democracy, climate change, and the pandemic, with a growing number of people mistakenly believing in widespread voter fraud, skeptical of vaccination and disinteresteded while braking behavior that warms the planet.
“The resulting The factors medium a world in which different and antagonistic political tribes each live in their own factual universe. It’s not a world ruled by reason or reality and is in itself an existential threat to modern civilization as we know it“, said Herb Lin, senior cyberpolicy and security researcher at the Center for International Security and Cooperation.
Rachel Bronson, President of the Bulletin, noted that global challenges had changed little since 2021, when the clock remained at 100 minus midnight in a reflection of optimism over the election of President BidenJoe BidenDoomsday predictions for Democrats are no guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden’s first year on border policy Vilsack accuses China of breaking trade deal-era commitments Trump MORE and declarations to address the threat of nuclear weapons, through the new START missile treaty with Russia and an intention to relaunch the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
“We continue to believe that human beings can manage the dangers posed by modern technology even in times of crisis. But if humanity is to avoid an existential catastrophe, one that would eclipse all it has ever seen, national leaders must do a much better job of countering misinformation, heeding science, and cooperating to reduce global risks,” she said.
“The COVID 19 pandemic is a historic wake-up call, a stark illustration that national governments and international organizations are unprepared to handle complex and dangerous challenges like nuclear weapons and climate change, which constitute currently an existential threat to humanity, or other dangers including more virulent pandemics [or] a next generation war that could threaten civilization in the near future.
2020 marked the first time the doomsday clock has gone from 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to the end point of destruction and the first time it has been measured in seconds rather than minutes. , reflecting the urgency of the moment.
The announcement reflected an increase in tensions between the United States and Iran that occurred in January of the same year with the targeted US assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, and the growing dangers of not fighting against climate change.
The 2020 announcement, made in January, came before the World Health Organization declared the rapidly circulating coronavirus a global pandemic.
—Updated 5:50 p.m.