The apocalypse clock has never been so close to midnight, the hour of the end of time

Sylvie Claire / January 25, 2023

It is 90 seconds to midnight and this means that humanity has never been so close to a planetary cataclysm: this is what the group of scientists managing the Doomsday Clock announced on Tuesday, citing the war in Ukraine.


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in charge of this symbolic project since 1947, unveiled at a press conference in Washington its new timetable, which is supposed to measure the imminence of a global catastrophe.


It has been advanced by 10 seconds and now marks midnight minus 90 seconds, getting closer to midnight, the fateful hour that scientists hope never to see reached. This is a record since its creation.


Since 2020, the clock was at 100 seconds from midnight.


We're moving the clock forward, and this is the closest it's ever been to midnight," the group said in unveiling the new schedule, citing in particular, but "not exclusively," "the growing dangers of war in Ukraine" and "the increased risk of nuclear escalation."


We live in a time of unprecedented danger, and the doomsday clock represents that reality," said Rachel Bronson, president of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.


Moving the clock forward" is a decision our experts do not take lightly. The U.S. government, its Nato allies and Ukraine have a multitude of channels for dialogue at their disposal; we urge leaders to do their utmost to explore all of them in order to move the clock back," she added.


In addition to the war in Ukraine and the nuclear danger, the scientists took into account "the persistent threats posed by the climate crisis" as well as the fact that "devastating events, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, can no longer be considered as rare once-in-a-hundred-years events.


The panel also discussed misinformation and surveillance technologies.


The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner, saw the announcement as a wake-up call that should not be brushed aside and called for "urgent action to avert nuclear catastrophe."


But the news was also met, on Twitter for example, with some skeptical comments, questioning the usefulness of the doomsday clock or its reliability.


We do not predict the future," the panel said on its website, anticipating criticism.


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists "is like a doctor making a diagnosis. We look at the data the way doctors look at lab tests and X-rays, and we also consider factors that are more difficult to quantify, as doctors do when they talk with patients and family members. »


Then we come to a judgment that summarizes what could happen if leaders and citizens do not act to cure diseases," the scientists explain.


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, which produced the first atomic bomb.


Originally, after the Second World War, the clock indicated midnight minus 7 minutes. By 1991, at the end of the Cold War, it had moved back to 17 minutes before midnight. In 1953, as well as in 2018 and 2019, it showed midnight minus 2.

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