The Doomsday Clock helps to convey threats to humanity and the planet, using midnight to represent apocalypse.
The clock is set every year by scientists and security experts, in consultation with a board that includes 10 Nobel laureates, and has become universally recognised as an indicator of the world’s vulnerability to global catastrophe caused by manmade technology.
Announcing this year’s ‘time’ on Tuesday, the Bulletin said the hands were being moved 10 seconds closer to midnight “largely (though not exclusively) because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine”.
“The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been,” it added.
“The war in Ukraine may enter a second horrifying year, with both sides convinced they can win. Ukraine’s sovereignty and broader European security arrangements that have largely held since the end of World War II are at stake.
“And worst of all, Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict—by accident, intention, or miscalculation—is a terrible risk. The possibility that the conflict could spin out of anyone’s control remains high.
“Russia has also brought its war to the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor sites, violating international protocols and risking widespread release of radioactive materials. Efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency to secure these plants so far have been rebuffed.”
Rachel Bronson, chief executive of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said: “As UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned this past August, the world has entered a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War.”
Speaking about the war between Russia and Ukraine, she said: “There is no clear pathway for forging a just peace that discourages future aggression under the shadow of nuclear threat.
“The US government, its Nato allies and Ukraine have a multitude of channels for dialogue. We urge leaders to explore all of them to their fullest ability.”
The Doomsday Clock was established in 1947 by experts from The Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists who were working on the Manhattan Project to design and build the first atomic bomb.
The concerned US scientists set up the countdown to provide a simple way of demonstrating the danger to the Earth and humanity posed by nuclear war.
It is an independent non-profit organisation run by some of the world’s most eminent scientists.
The symbolic clock’s hands stood at 100 seconds to midnight between 2020 and 2022.
It had been set at two minutes in 2018 and left unchanged in 2019. It was originally set at seven minutes to midnight.