The world is still at a ‘time of unprecedented danger.’.
Scientists updated the Doomsday Clock Tuesday, revealing they are keeping it at 90 seconds to midnight as in 2023, which is the theoretical point of annihilation.
The unchanged clock – a symbolic timepiece showing how close the world is to ending – was accredited to the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, an acceleration in the nuclear arms race and advancements of AI.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which decides where the hands are set, said it is the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.
Scientists updated the Doomsday Clock Scientists Tuesday, revealing they are keeping it 90 seconds to midnight – the same as in 2023
Rachel Bronson, the bulletin’s president and CEO, said: ‘Conflict hot spots around the world carry the threat of nuclear escalation, climate change is already causing death and destruction, and disruptive technologies like AI and biological research advance faster than their safeguards.’
She added that keeping the symbolic timepiece unchanged from the prior year is ‘not an indication that the world is stable.’
Every January since 1947, the Bulletin has determined how close humankind is to annihilation by pulling the current off the clock.
The Doomsday Clock was founded by US scientists involved in the Manhattan Project, which led to the first nuclear weapons during World War II, and is a symbolic countdown to represent how close humanity is to complete global catastrophe.
Artist Martyl Langsdorf was commissioned to make the clock and told to create an image that would ‘frighten men into rationality,’ according to Eugene Rabinowitch, the first editor of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
The Doomsday Clock started in 1947 with the timepiece set at seven minutes to midnight, but now it is only 90 seconds until midnight
Rachel Bronson, the bulletin’s president and CEO, said that keeping the symbolic timepiece unchanged from the prior year is ‘not an indication that the world is stable’
The time is determined by the group of scientists who look at events throughout the year.
The group asks if humanity is safer or at a greater risk this year than compared to the previous and the same query, but compared to the more than 75 years of the Doomsday Clock’s existence.
And that is how they determined where the time will stand.
Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, set to reach its second anniversary next month, has escalated tensions with the West to their most dangerous levels since the Cold War.
‘A durable end to Russia’s war in Ukraine seems distant, and the use of nuclear weapons by Russia in that conflict remains a serious possibility. In the past year Russia has sent numerous worrying nuclear signals,’ Bronson said.
She continued to explain that Putin’s announcement to use nuclear weapons has also contributed to the Bulletin’s decision.
In addition to he Russian parliament’s October 2023 passage of a law withdrawing ratification of the global treaty banning nuclear weapons tests.
The war in Israel was also mentioned as a factor.
The war in Gaza began on October 7, when Hamas gunmen launched a surprise Israel, killing more than 1,400 people and taking over 220 hostages.
The unprecedented strike reignited the ongoing war between the two nations.
Gaza deaths have exceeded 25,000, according to the Health Ministry.
‘As a nuclear state, Israel’s actions are clearly relevant to the Doomsday Clock discussion,’ Bronson said.
‘Of particular worry is that the conflict might escalate more broadly in the region creating a larger conventional war and drawing in more nuclear powers or near-nuclear powers.’
When the clock was first created, the greatest danger arose from nuclear weapons. Climate change was weighed as a factor for the first time in 2007.
Climate change was also part of the scientists’ decision, noting that ‘the world entered ‘uncharged territory’ for climate impacts last year, with conditions exceeding past extremes by enormous margins.’
Data showed that 2023 was the hottest on record, with the global average temperature hitting 58.96°F, around 0.3°F higher than the previous record holder – 2016.
‘A lack of action on climate change threatens billions of lives, Bronson said during the live streamed event.
Bronson also raised concerns about biological threats amid the revolution in the life science and associated technologies.
‘Biological research aimed at preventing future pandemics has proven useful, but also presents the risk of creating one, she said.