Scientists will announce whether they believe mankind is any closer to self-annihilation at the unveiling of the 2023 Doomsday Clock next week.
Last year, the clock remained at 100 seconds to midnight, where it has been since 2020, but tensions between Russia and Ukraine this year could edge the minute hand even closer to 12 o’clock.
The Doomsday Clock is a visual representation of just how close humanity is to destroying life as we know it, with midnight representing the eruption of a global catastrophe.
When the clock was first unveiled at the start of the Cold War in 1947, it was set at seven minutes to midnight. After the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, signed by the U.S. and Soviet Union in 1991 to cut down on nuclear weapons, the clock was pushed back to 17 minutes to midnight.
However, in recent years, the minute hand has been edging ever closer to midnight. The catastrophic disruption of climate change was first considered as a deciding hand-setting factor in 2007, when the clock was moved form seven minutes to midnight to five minutes to midnight.
In 2018, the clock was set at two minutes to midnight, due to both nuclear risk and climate change, and in 2020 it was set 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been. The clock has since stayed at this time.
The time on the clock is decided by the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a Chicago-based group of experts in the fields of nuclear risk, climate change, disruptive technologies, and bioterrorism.
The clock was last set on January 20, 2022, shortly before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On March 7, 2022, the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board condemned the invasion in a statement.
“For many years, we and others have warned that the most likely way nuclear weapons might be used is through an unwanted or unintended escalation from a conventional conflict,” they said. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought this nightmare scenario to life.” At the time, the clock did not budge from 100 minutes to midnight, but ten months later, Putin is not shying away from his nuclear threats. (SOURCE)