CHICAGO -- The Doomsday Clock has been set to its closest time to midnight in its history, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced Tuesday.
The clock has now been set to 90 seconds to midnight, with the war in Ukraine, increased nuclear escalation influencing the decision. The climate crisis and the breakdown of global norms and institutions needed to deal with biological risks such as COVID-19 were also cited.
The clock is a metaphor for how close humanity is to self annihilation. The stewards of the clock meet annually to discuss re-setting the clock based on current world events.
The Doomsday Clock was previously set at 100 seconds to midnight in 2020.
"We are living in a time of unprecedented danger, and the Doomsday Clock time reflects that reality," Rachel Bronson, PhD, president and CEO, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said. "Ninety seconds to midnight is the closest the Clock has ever been set to midnight, and it's a decision our experts do not take lightly. The US government, its NATO allies and Ukraine have a multitude of channels for dialogue; we urge leaders to explore all of them to their fullest ability to turn back the Clock."
The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Science and Security Board with the support of the Bulletin's Board of Sponsors are responsible for setting the Doomsday Clock.
The Doomsday Clock statement about the change said in part, "Russia's war on Ukraine has raised profound questions about how states interact, eroding norms of international conduct that underpin successful responses to a variety of global risks. And worst of all, 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 possibility that the conflict could spin out of anyone's control remains high . . .. Russia has also brought its war to the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor sites, violating international protocols and risking widespread release of radioactive materials. Efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency to secure these plants so far have been rebuffed."
The Doomsday Clock is located at the Bulletin offices at the University of Chicago.