Apocalypse-predicting Doomsday Clock still at 100 seconds to midnight

Apocalypse-predicting Doomsday Clock is actually at 100 seconds to midnight – and NOT at one minute to midnight as Boris Johnson claims, scientists confirm

  • The clock was set at 100 seconds to midnight in January for the second year
  • This is the closest it has been to doomsday since it launched 74 years ago
  • It had been at two minutes to midnight since 2017 in part due to climate change
  • The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists says there are multiple ‘end of days’ threats
  • They say ‘new norms of behaviour’ are needed to push the clock hands back 

The apocalypse predicting Doomsday Clock isn’t at a minute to midnight ‘yet’, according to the scientists that run it, correcting a claim made by Boris Johnson.

The UK Prime Minister said in his opening remarks at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow that ‘humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change,’ adding that ‘it’s one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock and we need to act now.’

However, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which has run the Doomsday Clock for the past 74 years, said the clock was still at 100 seconds to midnight.

The clock was founded by US scientists involved in the Manhattan Project that led to the first nuclear weapons during WW2 and is a symbolic countdown to represent how close humanity is to complete global catastrophe. 

The Doomsday clock first moved to 100 seconds to midnight in January 2020, and remained there this year – in part due to a ‘lack of action’ over the Covid pandemic. 

In a statement, the Bulletin said it agrees with Johnson that ‘we need to act now’ on climate change, but the prediction for how close we are to annihilation hasn’t changed since it was last set in January this year.

The UK Prime Minister said in his opening remarks at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow that ‘humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change’

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which has run the Doomsday Clock for the past 74 years, said the clock was still at 100 seconds to midnight

BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS OPEN LETTER TO BORIS JOHNSON

‘While the Doomsday Clock is perilously close to midnight, it is not as close as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested in his COP26 opening remarks.

‘The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is in complete agreement with the sentiment that “we need to act now,” but we want to clarify that the Doomsday Clock, which we created in 1947, is currently set at 100 seconds to midnight.

‘The Clock, a powerful symbol for how close humanity is to self-annihilation, is set by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board once a year. 

‘The board members weigh dangers posed by climate change, nuclear risk, and disruptive technologies in determining the time. We will announce the time in January 2022.’

Johnson was talking about the need to take action now, to keep average global temperatures from climbing above 2.7°F (1.5°C) above pre-industrial levels.

Temperatures rising above this is seen as a point where the impact of climate change will become increasingly devastating for humans.

At the COP26 conference, world and business leaders are discussing ways to meet this goal, including moving to net zero economies, where no more carbon is put into the atmosphere than removed.

In recent years the issue of climate change has been a feature of the Doomsday Clock, set up as a ‘powerful symbol for how close humanity is to self-annihilation’.

It is set once a year in January, taking into account a number of factors that could lead humanity to destroy itself.

The board members weigh dangers posed by climate change, nuclear risk and disruptive technologies in determining the time. 

The next update is scheduled for January 2022, and will mark its 75th year.  

It has been at 100 seconds to midnight for the past two years, and maintaining last year’s grim record means the clock’s keepers perceived threat of global apocalypse has not cooled off. It isn’t clear if it will move closer to midnight in January.

This is the closest the clock has been to midnight in its history, with climate change, increased nuclear tensions and the global pandemic bringing us ‘closer to the apocalypse than ever before’, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. 

They warned when setting the clock that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic revealed ‘how unprepared and unwilling’ countries are to handle a global emergency properly.  

Rachel Bronson, president and chief executive of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said the pandemic presented world leaders with a genuine crisis. 

‘In this time of genuine crisis, governments around the world too often abdicated responsibility, ignored scientific advice, did not co-operate to communicate effectively and consequently failed to protect health and welfare of their citizens.’  

The group responsible for the clock expected the virus to kill more than two million people around the globe when it made the announcement in January 2020, but recent figures revealed more than five million have died so far.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, co-chair, WHO Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient said coronavirus was a ‘terrible warning against complacency in the face of global threats to human life’.

Dr Asha M. George, executive director, Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense said: ‘The pandemic reveals just how unprepared and unwilling countries and the international system are to handle global emergencies properly. 

The clock was founded by US scientists involved in the Manhattan Project that led to the first nuclear weapons during WW2 and is a symbolic countdown to represent how close humanity is to complete global catastrophe 

Dr Rachel Bronson president and chief executive of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, who cited the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as one of the reasons for this year’s count remaining at 100 seconds, staying the closest to midnight it has ever been for the second year running

The group responsible for the clock expected coronavirus to kill more than two million people around the globe when they made the announcement in January 2020, but recent figures revealed more than five million had died so far 

‘In this time of crisis, governments too often abdicated responsibility, ignored scientific advice, cooperated or communicated ineffectively, and consequently failed to protect the public health and welfare of their citizens.’

Since the turn of the century the clock hasn’t gone above ten minutes to midnight and has got closer to midnight almost every year since 2015. 

‘We are now expressing how close the world is to catastrophe in seconds – not hours, or even minutes,’ said Bronson. 

The clock has become a universally recognised indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in life sciences.  

WHAT IS THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

What is the Doomsday Clock? 

The Doomsday Clock was created by the Bulletin, an independent non-profit organisation run by some of the world’s most eminent scientists.

It was founded by concerned US scientists involved in the Manhattan Project that developed the world’s first nuclear weapons during the Second World War.

In 1947 they established the clock to provide a simple way of demonstrating the danger to the Earth and humanity posed by nuclear war.

The Doomsday Clock now not only takes into account the likelihood of nuclear Armageddon but also other emerging threats such as climate change and advances in biotechnology and artificial intelligence.

The Doomsday Clock was created by the Bulletin, an independent non-profit organisation run by some of the world’s most eminent scientists

 It is symbolic and represents a countdown to possible global catastrophe.

The decision to move, or leave the clock alone, is made by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in consultation with the bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, which includes 16 Nobel laureates.

The clock has become a universally recognised indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in life sciences.

In 2020 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, an expert group formed in 1945, adjusted the Doomsday Clock 100 seconds to midnight, the closest we’ve ever come to total destruction – and it remained there in 2021.

That sent a message that the Earth was closer to oblivion than any time since the early days of hydrogen bomb testing and 1984, when US-Soviet relations reached ‘their iciest point in decades’. 

In 2020 the Bulletin also considered world leaders response to the coronavirus pandemic, feeling it was so poor that the clock needed to remain in its perilously close to midnight position. 

The closer to midnight the clock moves the closer to annihilation humanity is. 

How has the clock changed since 1947?

  • 1947 – 48: 7 minutes
  • 1949 – 52: 3 minutes
  • 1953 – 59: 2 minutes
  • 1960 – 62: 7 minutes
  • 1963 – 67: 12 minutes
  • 1968: 7 minutes
  • 1969 – 71: 10 minutes
  • 1972 – 73: 12 minutes
  • 1974 – 79: 9 minutes
  • 1980: 7 minutes
  • 1981 – 83: 4 minutes
  • 1984 – 87: 3 minutes
  • 1988 – 89: 6 minutes
  • 1990: 10 minutes
  • 1991 – 94: 17 minutes
  • 1995 – 97: 14 minutes
  • 1998 – 2001: 9 minutes
  • 2002 – 06: 7 minutes
  • 2007 – 09: 5 minutes
  • 2010 – 11: 6 minutes
  • 2012 – 14: 5 minutes
  • 2015 – 16: 3 minutes
  • 2017 – 2.5 minutes
  • 2018 – 2 minutes
  • 2019 – 2 minutes
  • 2020 – 100 seconds
  • 2021 – 100 seconds 

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