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Doomsday 2023 ticks forward amidst nuclear fears

Doomsday 2023 ticks forward amidst nuclear fears

Doomsday Clock says the world is closer than ever to a global catastrophe

This year’s Doomsday Clock announcement revealed that it is 90 seconds to midnight, bringing us closer than ever to global catastrophe.

Damien Henderson, Associated Press

The world is closer to annihilation than it has ever been since the first atomic bombs were fired at the end of World War II, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said Tuesday. The time on the doomsday clock advanced from 100 seconds to midnight to 90 seconds to midnight.

It’s a recreation of what became known as the Doomsday Clock, a decade-long project by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, with a clock face depicting midnight Armageddon.

Between Russia’s nuclear brinkmanship in its war against Ukraine, the real-world threats of climate change that are only getting worse, and ongoing concerns about more possible pandemics caused by humans encroaching on formerly wild lands, the Bulletin chose to do so to set the clock to the nearest midnight.

The world is facing a storm of extinction-level consequences, exacerbated by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. This explains the clock’s recent progress, said Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“The threats are even more acute and the leadership failures even more devastating. We live today in a world of interlocking crises, each illustrating the unwillingness of leaders to act in the true long-term interests of their people,” she said.

The Bulletin was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists involved in the development of the Manhattan Project’s first nuclear weapons. Two years later, they launched the watch to warn humanity how close the world was to a nuclear apocalypse.

ANALYSIS: Why any use of nuclear weapons would be a disaster

“It’s a way of reminding people of issues so big that they pose a threat to all of civilization,” said Steve Fetter, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland and a member of the University’s Science and Safety Committee Bulletin the clock every year.

Check out the 2023 doomsday clock announcement:

The clock has ticked minutes or seconds toward or away from disaster over the years. Wars bring it closer, treaties and cooperation further away.

For the past two years it has been 100 seconds to midnight. In recent years, the threat of man-made disasters such as climate change has also been factored into the clock setting.

Here’s what you should know:

Why did the doomsday clock tick 90 seconds to midnight?

The clock’s movement to just 90 seconds to midnight sends a message that the world situation is urgent, with potential far-reaching consequences and long-term implications, said Bulletin President Rachel Bronson.

“What we are conveying with this watch movement is that things are not going in the right direction and have not gone in the right direction. Those who are listening and saying, ‘The world doesn’t feel safer today’ – they are not alone,” she said.

Her hope is that this year’s announcement will raise awareness around the world and push people to act and ditch a business-as-usual mindset. Scientists are clear, Robinson said.

“Leaders, wake up! That is your responsibility. This is under your supervision,” she said.

Nuclear risks from Russia’s war against Ukraine

The clock was ticking largely, though not exclusively, because of the nuclear threats posed by the war in Ukraine, the Bulletin said in its statement.

The war has undermined the norms of international conduct.

“Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons are a reminder to the world that the escalation of the conflict – by accident, design or misjudgment – ​​poses a terrible risk. The possibility of the conflict escaping anyone’s control remains high,” the statement said.

ANALYSIS: Why any use of nuclear weapons would be a disaster

Climate change is also an issue

“These years leading up to 2030 are probably the most important years in human history from a climate and biodiversity perspective because either we will do as scientists tell us or we will condemn future generations to a terrible world,” he said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the strains straining Europe’s energy supply have led to increased use of greenhouse gas-producing coal and oil.

CONTINUE READING: Europe’s energy problems worsen as Russia shuts down Ukraine’s nuclear power plant and cuts off the Nord Stream pipeline

The good news is that innovation around renewable energy has increased tremendously and the next generation is getting serious about the issue, said Sivan Kartha, senior scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute and a member of Bulletin’s Science and Safety Committee.

“The generation that’s growing up now, the generation that’s going to be our leaders in the future, is excited about climate change,” he said.

“Our generation has spoken about climate change as a problem for future generations. This is the future generation that is growing up now and will see potentially very dire repercussions. And so their motivation, their energy and their seriousness about climate change is (different) than previous generations.”

Who Makes the Doomsday Clock?

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has regularly published a new Doomsday Clock setting for decades, showing how close – or far – its experts believe humanity is to the abyss.

The clock “shows how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own development,” according to the group.

More: What is the doomsday clock and who operates it?

More: “Nuclear Nightmare” Approaches: Why Any Use of Nuclear Weapons Would Be a Disaster

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Published January 24, 2023 at 11:04 UTC
Updated January 24, 2023 at 17:16 UTC

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