In an update Tuesday, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reset the clock from 100 seconds to 90 seconds — the closest it has ever been to midnight.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has increased the risk of nuclear weapons use, raised the specter of biological and chemical weapons use, hamstrung the world’s response to climate change, and hampered international efforts to deal with other global concerns,” the Chicago-based non-profit organization said in a statement.
The Doomsday Clock is a metaphor that visualizes the threat humanity faces from unchecked scientific and technological advances, according to the group comprised of experts in nuclear weapons, biological weapons and climate change.
The hands of the clock were moved largely due to the Russia’s war in Ukraine – approaching one year – and the increased risk of nuclear escalation, the scientists said.
The climate change crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic also influenced the new time.
“We are living in a time of unprecedented danger, and the Doomsday Clock time reflects that reality,” said Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in a statement.
The hands of the clock are moved closer to or further away from midnight based on the scientists’ reading of existential threats at a particular time.
Doomsday occurs at midnight, so the closer to midnight the clock is set, the more peril they believe the world is in.
The clock was set at 100 seconds to midnight in 2020 and had remained unchanged since.
This year, its setting reflects for the first time a world in which Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has revived fears of nuclear war.
Since its debut in 1947, the minute hand on the Doomsday Clock has been moved 25 times, including on Tuesday.
— with files from Reuters