The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced on Jan. 24 that the hands of the Doomsday Clock moved to 90 seconds to midnight—the closest it has ever been to apocalypse in the three-quarters of a century the Clock has been set.
In making the unprecedented move, the Bulletin cited nuclear threats from Russian president Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine, as well as global carbon dioxide emissions hitting another record high, the risk of biological threats and global disinformation.
“We are living in a time of unprecedented danger, and the Doomsday Clock time reflects that reality,” said Rachel Bronson, president of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “It’s a decision our experts do not take lightly.”
Founded by a group of scientists in Chicago in the wake of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, the Bulletin meets every year to determine how much metaphorical time we have to avert catastrophe for humankind.
Over the past 76 years, the hands of the clock have moved both backward and forward, according to whether steps were taken to address potentially civilization-ending threats, including climate change and nuclear war.
"This is the closest the Doomsday Clock has ever been to midnight," said University of Chicago Prof. Daniel Holz, who co-chairs the board that sets the clock time every year. "Between a potential nuclear war over Ukraine, accelerating climate catastrophes, and democracies worldwide under siege, we believe that civilization is in unprecedented danger. We all need to take action to move us away from the brink, and turn back the Clock."
Previously, the closest the clock had been to midnight was in 2020 when the Bulletin set the hands of the clock at 100 seconds to midnight, moving it forward from two minutes.