The world has never been so close to Armageddon. The Doomsday Clock strikes only 90 seconds to midnightor nuclear catastrophe. This was established by the Science and Safety Council of the ‘Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ which advanced the hands of the Apocalypse Clock (the system for monitoring the risk of a hypothetical end of the nuclear world, conceived in the middle of the last century).
Apocalypse clock: what is it
Clock of the apocalypse (Doomsday Clock in English) is an initiative conceived in 1947 by the scientists of the magazine Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists of the University of Chicago which consists of a metaphorical clock that measures the danger of a hypothetical end of the world to which humanity is subjected.
The danger is quantified through the metaphor of a symbolic clock whose midnight symbolizes the end of the world while the preceding minutes represent the hypothetical distance from this event. Originally midnight represented only atomic warfare, while since 2007 it considers any event that can inflict irrevocable damage on humanity (such as climate change).
When it was created during the Cold War, the clock was set at 11.53pm, seven minutes before midnight; since then, the hands have been moved 23 times. The closest midnight was reached in 2023, with just 90 seconds. Previously the minimum distance had been 100 seconds, achieved in 2020; the maximum distance was 17 minutes, between 1991 (START agreements) and 1995.
War and beyond
With the war in Ukraine and fears of a nuclear tragedy heightened, the hands of the ‘Doomsday Clock’ were moved forward this year from 100 seconds in 2022, signaling the approaching day of doomsday for humanity .
A decision due above all, but not only, to the war and the increased risk of atomic escalation. The new timetable was in fact also influenced by the climate crisis and by the insufficiency of regulations necessary to mitigate its risks, together with the advancement of technologies and biological threats such as Covid-19.
“We live in a time of unprecedented peril, and the Doomsday Clock reflects that reality,” he explained. Rachel Bronson, the number one of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the organization that annually takes the pulse of the dangers of a nuclear holocaust and beyond. The approach of Armageddon is attributable “in large part, but not only, to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the growing risk of a nuclear escalation,” wrote the scientists, who this year for the first turn they released the press release with their decision also in Russian and Ukrainian in an attempt to get the warning to the most interested capitals.
“The US government, its NATO allies and Ukraine have multiple channels of dialogue. We’re asking leaders to explore them” so we can move the clock back and push the end away, Bronson added. The Doomsday Clock “sounds the alarm for all mankind. We are on the edge of the precipice but our leaders are not acting fast enough to ensure a peaceful and livable planet,” denounced the former UN high commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson. The former UN secretary general echoed her Ban Ki-moon: “It is close to midnight and this shows how the world has become more dangerous in the wake of the pandemic, the climate and Russia’s scandalous war in Ukraine”.
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