The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock from 100 seconds to midnight to 90 seconds to midnight Tuesday. According to the bulletin, 90 seconds is “the closest to global catastrophe” the Doomsday Clock has ever been.
Areas of concern that led to the moving of the clock include:
- The threat of nuclear war amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
- Climate change
- Biological threats in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Disruptive technologies
“The Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, largely (though not exclusively) because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine,” the bulletin said in a news release. “Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict—by accident, intention, or miscalculation—is a terrible risk.”
The clock, which is assessed each January, had been set to 100 seconds to midnight since 2020. The change to 100 seconds was notable as it was the first time the proximity to midnight was described in seconds.
“I said at that time ‘we are faced by a gathering storm of extinction-level consequences and time is running out,'” bulletin board member and former Irish President Mary Robinson said Tuesday. “Little did I know then that the gathering storm of threats would also include the devastating COVID-19 pandemic… and the illegal invasion of a sovereign state by a nuclear-armed and permanent member of the UN Security Council.”
Sivan Kartha, a bulletin board member and scientist at the Stockholm Environmental Institute, added natural gas prices pushed to new heights by the war had also forced companies to turn to coal as an alternative power source. This further exacerbated the climate crisis, according to the bulletin.
“Global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, after having rebounded from the COVID economic decline to an all-time-high in 2021, continue to rise in 2022 and hit another record high,” Kartha said. “With emissions still rising, weather extremes continue, and were even more clearly attributable to climate change.”
Reuters contributed to this report.