Atomic scientists set the Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds to midnight, saying that the world is “no safer” today than it was a year ago.
It is the closest the clock has ever been to reaching midnight, which atomic scientists say marks the time of global obliteration. The time remained unchanged from 2020 and 2021, as scientists indicated the growing threats of nuclear warfare and climate change continued.
“Steady is not good news,” said Sharon Squassoni, research professor at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.
“In fact, it reflects the judgment of the board that we are stuck in a perilous moment that brings neither stability nor security.”
The existential threats of nuclear war and climate change, compounded by the proliferation of online misinformation, puts humanity dangerously close to a global apocalypse, scientists said.
Experts pointed to President Joe Biden's stalled $1.75 trillion social spending and climate bill, the UK's carbon emissions levels, the Russian crisis in Ukraine and North Korea's missile arms developments all as worrying factors.
And despite positive developments in safety and climate change, the panel said it is not enough to offset the current threats.
“The Doomsday Clock continues to hover dangerously, reminding us how much work is needed to ensure a safer and healthier planet. We must continue to push the hands of the clock away from midnight,” said Rachel Bronson, president and chief executive of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
While the Covid-19 pandemic is not considered an existential threat, the panel found that rampant misinformation continues to undermine efforts to curtail the virus.
Created 75 years ago by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the Doomsday Clock was designed to warn the public about the perils facing the world and what must be done to address them. The experts who designed the clock at the time were working on the Manhattan Project, which led to the development of the first atom bomb.
The clock was first set at seven minutes to midnight amid nuclear tension between the US and the Soviet Union, but moved back to 17 minutes to midnight at the end of the Cold War.
The panel added climate change as a measurement to its Doomsday Clock in 2009.