The Doomsday Clock, a symbolic device that shows how close we are to the end of humanity, is in its most alarming state for the second year in a row. The closer the hands get to midnight, the more worrying the current situation becomes. The numbers are updated at the beginning of the year and are currently at 90 seconds to midnight and in 2023 an alarming record.
The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic device developed by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists magazine at the beginning of the Cold War. It measures how close we are to the annihilation of humanity: the closer to midnight, the greater the likelihood of an apocalypse.
When it was founded in 1947, the threat was the development of the atomic bomb and the clock then showed seven minutes to midnight. The hands reset at the beginning of the year and are positioned according to world events, allowing them to go back or advance (in case of improvement).
In November 2023, the hand moved forward and reached the 90second mark until midnight for the first time in history. O Digital look talked about it here. Even when adjusted at the beginning of 2024, the hands remained in the same place.
Image: Reproduction/Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
What are the reasons for the ending?
In 2023, the position of the Doomsday Clock depended on a number of dangerous situations, such as:
- The war in Ukraine and the possibility of the conflict escalating to the point of using nuclear weapons;
- Increasing tensions between the United States and Russia due to the weakening of bilateral treaties governing the development and testing of nuclear weapons;
- The progression of climate change: 2023 will be the hottest year on record.
In 2024, all reasons remain. And there are others, as the magazine responsible for Relógio said in a statement:
- The lack of commitment to halting severe climate change in 2023;
- The lack of measures to prepare for the next global pandemic;
- The third year of the war between Ukraine and Russia, with no end in sight;
- The humanitarian crisis caused by the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip in Palestine following attacks by Hamas. In just over three months, more than 25,000 Palestinian civilians were killed, with the conflict having the highest death toll compared to any other conflict in the 21st century.
- Deterioration of agreements to reduce nuclear weapons and the threat of biological weapons;
- Constant spread of misinformation online;
- Unregulated development of cyber technologies.
Image: Malcolm Leman/Shutterstock
What experts say about the Doomsday Clock
Every year at the beginning of the year, the magazine's experts analyze the human threats that could lead to the extinction of humanity. The adjustment did not reset the clock in 2024.
According to Rachel Bronson, PhD, president and CEO of the Bulletin, the fact that nothing has changed doesn't mean the world is stable. Quite the opposite. For them, it is urgent that the world's governments act to stop humanity's decline.
Bill Nye, who helped announce the 2024 guidelines, said the dangers have been known for decades and that we need to better manage the technologies we create if we want to survive a disaster.
On previous occasions the doomsday clock has already gone backwards. In 1947, after the atomic bomb, it was 11:53 p.m. (seven minutes to midnight). In 1991, with detente between the United States and the then Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany, and the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, it was 11:43 p.m. (17 minutes to midnight).