According to the Bulletin’s statement, the decision does not suggest that the situation has stabilized: “On the contrary, the Clock remains the closest it has ever been to civilization-ending apocalypse because the world remains stuck in an extremely dangerous moment.”
“The Doomsday Clock is holding steady, but steady is not good news,” said Sharon Squassoni, professor at George Washington University and co-chair of the Bulletin board that sets the clock. “We are stuck in a perilous moment—one that brings neither stability nor security. Positive developments in 2021 failed to counteract negative, long-term trends.”
In their decision, the Bulletin cited disinformation, global security threats including ‘nuclear saber rattling,’ lack of actionable climate policies, disruptive technology and insufficient worldwide COVID-19 response.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was created 77 years ago by a group of concerned Manhattan Project scientists, many based at the University of Chicago, shortly after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Two years later, in 1947, artist and Bulletin member Martyl Langsdorf created the iconic Doomsday Clock to signal how close humanity was to self-destruction.
Today, the Doomsday Clock is located at the Bulletin offices in the Keller Center, home to the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.
Though it was first created in response to nuclear weapons, the clock reckoning now includes climate change and “disruptive technologies,” such as bio- and cybersecurity.
However, the Bulletin has always emphasized that the clock is not intended to make people fearful, but rather to spur them to action. The full statement lists a number of actions needed to make the world safer, and urges people to press their governments for action.
“There is no more time to waste,” said board member and University of Oxford Prof. Raymond Pierrehumbert.
The full 2022 statement is here.