Doomsday Clock: Scientists say humanity remains at closest level to destruction

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists cites wars in Gaza and Ukraine as global risks

Last year the symbolic Doomsday Clock moved forward by 10 seconds to 90 seconds before midnight. AP
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Citing a "continuing and unprecedented level of risk" around the world, scientists kept the Doomsday Clock unchanged at 90 seconds to midnight.

The symbolic timepiece will warn humanity whether we have edged another notch nearer to midnight – destroying the world “with dangerous technologies of our own making”, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists said.

Tuesday's announcement was unchanged from last year, although the bulletin's chief executive and president Rachel Bronson warned against complacency.

Ms Bronson said the war in Ukraine remained a possibility of nuclear escalation, while the conflict in Gaza "provides further illustration of the horrors of modern war, even without nuclear escalation", Ms Bronson said.

The latest decision comes only a few months after war broke out in the Middle East on October 7 when Hamas launched a deadly assault on Israel that killed 1,200 people.

Israel has responded through a bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza, leaving more than 25,400 Palestinians dead – many of them women or children.

Fears of the war spilling over into the region have escalated in recent weeks, with Iran-backed Houthi rebels targeting ships in the Red Sea and tensions escalating on the Israel-Lebanon border.

Scientists did express some optimism in the fight against climate change, however, noting the climate pledges made at Cop28 in Dubai.

The bulletin last year moved the clock forward by 10 seconds to its current time – 90 seconds to midnight – over fears of nuclear weapons being used in Ukraine.

Today the war in Ukraine is at a virtual stalemate, with the US no longer funding Kyiv in its defence against Moscow's invasion.

The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 by a group of scientists who were part of the US project to develop the first atom bomb.

It was originally intended to show the perils of nuclear warfare during the Cold War but has since evolved to take other threats, such as climate change, into consideration.

Updated: March 05, 2024, 11:45 AM