Tuesday, January 24, 2023

2023 Doomsday Clock ticks to closest-ever position to midnight

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CHICAGO– The doomsday clock has been set for midnight, the closest time in its history, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced Tuesday.

The clock has now been set for 90 seconds to midnight, with the war in Ukraine and increasing nuclear escalation influencing the decision. The climate crisis and the collapse of global norms and institutions needed to deal with biological risks such as COVID-19 were also mentioned.

The clock is a metaphor for how close humanity is to self-annihilation. The clock custodians meet annually to discuss resetting the clock based on current world events.

The doomsday clock was previously set at 100 seconds to midnight in 2020.

“We live in a time of unprecedented danger, and the doomsday clock reflects that reality,” said Rachel Bronson, PhD, President and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “Ninety seconds to midnight is the closest time the clock has ever set to midnight, and it’s a decision our experts don’t take lightly. The US government, its NATO allies and Ukraine have a variety of channels for dialogue; we call on leaders to explore all of them can fully turn back the clock.”

The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board with support from the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, which is responsible for the discontinuation of the Doomsday Clock.

The Doomsday Clock statement on the change reads in part: “Russia’s war against Ukraine has raised profound questions about how states interact and has undermined norms of international behavior that underpin successful responses to a variety of global risks. And worst of all, Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons are reminding the world that the escalation of the conflict – by accident, design or miscalculation – poses a terrible risk to the Chernobyl and Zaporizhia nuclear reactor sites, thereby violating international protocols and causing widespread radioactive release materials are at risk. Efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency to secure these facilities have so far been rebuffed.”

The Doomsday Clock is housed in the Bulletin offices of the University of Chicago.

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