Scientists revealed on Tuesday that the “doomsday clock” had been moved up to 90 seconds before midnight – humanity’s closest to Armageddon.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the metaphorical clock 10 seconds from where it had been for the past two years, citing the escalating Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
“Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalating conflict by accident, intent or design is a terrible risk,” said Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic. Scientists. “The possibilities that the conflict could spiral out of anyone’s control remain high.”
Bronson noted that UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned in August that “the world has entered a period of nuclear danger unprecedented since the height of the Cold War.”
“The effects of the war are also undermining global efforts to combat climate change, as countries dependent on Russian oil and gas have increased their investments in natural gas,” Bronson said.
The added concern of Russia’s “false accusation” that Ukraine plans to use radiological dispersal devices, chemical and biological weapons “takes on new meaning”, she added. “The continued flow of misinformation about biological weapons labs in Ukraine raises concerns that Russia itself is considering deploying such weapons.”
For the past 75 years, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a nonprofit media organization made up of world leaders and Nobel laureates, has reported how close it believes the world is to collapse due of nuclear war, climate change and most recently the COVID -19 pandemic.
“It’s a metaphor, a reminder of the perils we must face if we are to survive on the planet,” the Bulletin, which created the clock, said on its website, also calling it “a design that warns the public of how close we must destroy our world with dangerous technologies of our own making.”
Tuesday’s announcement was the first since Russia invaded Ukraine, although the panel issued a warning at its last ‘Doomsday Clock’ press conference that Ukraine was a flashpoint. potential in an increasingly tense international security environment.
Launched in 1947, scientists wanted to highlight the possibility of catastrophe for the public regarding the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, according to the Bulletin, claiming that “the greatest danger for humanity came nuclear weapons” at the time.
The clock shows how much time is left until midnight, theoretical apocalypse.
When it was launched, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set the “doomsday clock” to seven minutes to midnight because the artist Martyl Langsdorf, who designed the clock that appeared in the June 1947 edition of the magazine, said “it looked good” in his eyes. , says the organization.
Prior to 2020, the hand closest to midnight was two minutes.
Shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Bulletin kept the clock ticking to 100 minutes to midnight, claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons if NATO intervened to help the Ukraine “this is what midnight minus 100 seconds looks like”.
In September, Putin issued a thinly veiled threat that Russia would resort to the use of nuclear weapons in its fight against Ukraine after several setbacks.
Russia’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine has been the target of repeated fires since Russia took control of it in March 2022, increasing the risk of nuclear disaster.
Rafael Grossi, director general of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, said last week that he feared the world had become complacent about potential risks to the plant.
The furthest the clock has ever been from midnight was 17 minutes in 1991 after then-President George HW Bush and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev both announced cuts to their respective countries’ nuclear arsenals .
“It reflected a time when the world took a serious interest in risk issues and worked together to mitigate it,” Bronson said.
ABC News’ Julia Jacobo contributed to this report.