The hands of the doomsday clock are closer than ever to midnight as humanity faces a time of “unprecedented danger” that has heightened the likelihood of a man-made apocalypse, it was announced on Tuesday. a group of scientists.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists – a non-profit organization made up of scientists, former political leaders and security and technology experts – moved the hands of the symbolic clock forward 10 seconds, to 90 seconds before midnight.
The adjustment, made in response to threats from nuclear weapons, climate change and infectious diseases such as Covid-19, is the closest the clock has come to a token catastrophe since its inception more than 75 years ago. years.
“We live in a time of unprecedented danger, and the hour of the end of the world reflects this reality,” Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said in a statement, adding that ” it’s a decision our experts don’t make.” to take lightly.
The Doomsday Clock was created to convey the proximity of catastrophic threats to humanity, serving as a metaphor for public and world leaders, rather than a predictive tool. When unveiled in 1947, the clock was set to 7 minus midnight, “midnight” signifying the man-made apocalypse. At the height of the Cold War, it was set at 2 minus midnight.
In 2020, the Bulletin set the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds at midnight, the first time it had moved within the two-minute mark. For the next two years, the needles remained unchanged.
Now, Bulletin scientists say humanity is dangerously closer to disaster.
In particular, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has increased the risk of nuclear escalation, they said. As the United States, Russia and China modernize their nuclear arsenals, there are also growing nuclear threats from North Korea, India and Pakistan, said Steve Fetter, professor of public policy at the Institute. University of Maryland and Science and Bulletin Science Fellow. security Council.
“From almost every perspective, the risk of nuclear disaster is higher today than last year,” Fetter said Tuesday at a news conference.
The climate crisis also remains a major threat, with Bulletin scientists noting that while carbon dioxide emissions plummeted in 2020 due to coronavirus lockdowns around the world, they rebounded to record highs in 2021 and have risen again. increased in 2022.
“With emissions continuing to rise, extreme weather events continue and are even more clearly attributable to climate change,” said Sivan Kartha, senior scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute and a member of the scientific committee and Bulletin security.
Kartha added, however, that innovation around renewable energy has been a bright spot, along with strong engagement from younger generations who have passionately pushed for more climate action.
“There is a generation growing up now, a generation that will be our leaders in the future, that is excited about climate change,” Kartha said. “They care about it as a personal issue.”
In addition to addressing the consequences of global warming, countries should mitigate the risks of infectious disease outbreaks and other biological threats, say the Bulletin’s scientists.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 to examine global security issues related to science and technology. Each year, the group consults with a board of sponsors to analyze the world’s most pressing threats to determine where the hands of the doomsday clock should be set.
This year, the organization hopes the clock will be a wake-up call to world leaders and members of the public.
“The doomsday clock is ringing the alarm for all of humanity,” said Mary Robinson, president of the non-governmental organization The Elders and former UN high commissioner for human rights. male. “We are on the edge of a precipice.”
This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com