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Doomsday clock remains at 90 seconds to midnight

The doomsday clock has been reset at 90 seconds to midnight, still the closest it has ever been to midnight, reflecting the continued state of unprecedented danger the world faces. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, stewards of the doomsday clock, emphasised in its announcement that the clock could be turned back, but governments and people needed to take urgent action.

 


A variety of global threats cast menacing shadows over the 2024 clock deliberations, including: the Russia-Ukraine war and deterioration of nuclear arms reduction agreements; the climate crisis and 2023’s official designation as the hottest year on record; the increased sophistication of genetic engineering technologies; and the dramatic advance of generative AI which could magnify disinformation and corrupt the global information environment making it harder to solve the larger existential challenges.

 

Rachel Bronson, president and CEO, the Bulletin, said: ‘Make no mistake: resetting the clock at 90 seconds to midnight is not an indication that the world is stable. Quite the opposite. It is urgent for governments and communities around the world to act. And the Bulletin remains hopeful – and inspired – in seeing the younger generations leading the charge.’

 

The doomsday clock’s time is set by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board (SASB) in consultation with its board of sponsors, which includes nine Nobel laureates. Previously in January 2023, the clock was set at 90 seconds to midnight, the closest to it had ever been. That has not changed.

 

Everyone on Earth has an interest in reducing the likelihood of global catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, advances in the life sciences, disruptive technologies, and the widespread corruption of the world’s information ecosystem. These threats, singularly and as they interact, are of such a character and magnitude that no one nation or leader can bring them under control. That is the task of leaders and nations working together in the shared belief that common threats demand common action. 

 

As the first step, and despite their profound disagreements, three of the world’s leading powers ­– the United States, China, and Russia – should commence serious dialogue about each of the global threats. At the highest levels, these three countries need to take responsibility for the existential danger the world now faces. They have the capacity to pull the world back from the brink of catastrophe. They should do so, with clarity and courage, and without delay.

 

Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein, J Robert Oppenheimer, and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the doomsday clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The clock is set every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its board of sponsors, which includes nine Nobel laureates. The clock has become a universally recognised indicator of the world’s vulnerability to global catastrophe caused by manmade technologies.

 

 

 

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