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- The Doomsday Clock is now 10 seconds closer to midnight.
- Scientists moved the clock’s second hand to 90 seconds to midnight on January 24.
- The clock symbolizes how close humanity is to the apocalypse.
The Doomsday Clock has been moved ten seconds closer to midnight — the closest humanity has ever been to the apocalypse.
The symbolic timepiece was adjusted on January 24 by scientists at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. A press release from the organization said the adjustment was chiefly because of the Ukraine war — and the possibility that the conflict might escalate to nuclear war.
“We are living in a time of unprecedented danger, and the Doomsday Clock time reflects that reality,” Rachel Bronson, the president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said in the press release.
“90 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,” Bronson added.
Bronson urged the US government, its NATO allies, and Ukraine to explore the “multitude of channels for dialogue” to “their fullest ability” so the world can turn back the clock.
A relic of the Cold War, the time on the Doomsday Clock has been switched up whenever global events indicate that humanity might be moving toward or away from an apocalypse. The hands of the clock have been moved many times, and not always forward. In 1991, the hand of the clock was moved back — from 10 minutes to 17 minutes before midnight — to mark the end of the Cold War.
Ban Ki-moon, the former secretary-general of the United Nations, urged governments to act quickly to address the many threats to humanity, like climate change and widespread disease.
“Three years ago, I helped unveil the Doomsday Clock when its hands were last moved,” Ban said in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ press release. “Today they are even closer to midnight, showing how much more perilous our world has become in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather events, and Russia’s outrageous war on Ukraine.”
“Leaders did not heed the Doomsday Clock’s warnings in 2020. We all continue to pay the price,” Ban added.
In 2018, the Doomsday Clock was set at two minutes to midnight after President Donald Trump’s continuous rhetoric about boosting the US’ stash of nuclear weapons.
And in 2020, the clock was moved to 100 seconds to midnight — which at the time was the closest to the apocalypse it had been in history. At the time, Robert Rosner, the chair of the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board, cited the “abysmal state of affairs in the realms of nuclear security and climate change” as reasons for moving the clock forward.