Week of 20 January 2020
The time on the Doomsday Clock has changed. With the climate crisis and nuclear threats, the world is the closest it has ever been to catastrophe since the end of World War II
The Doomsday Clock was created following World War II to illustrate the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. It is the “universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.” Every year, leading scientists (who form part of the Science and Security Board within the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists) decide where to place the minute hand of the clock.
This year, they have moved the clock forward to 100 seconds to midnight. This is the closest to catastrophe that the scientists have judged the world to be at any point since the clock’s creation – including during the Cold War. The scientists explain that the situation is even worse now “because the means by which political leaders had previously managed these potentially civilization-ending dangers are themselves being dismantled or undermined, without a realistic effort to replace them with new or better management regimes.”