The Doomsday Clock Moves Closer to Midnight


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Humanity is closer than ever to total eradication. This warning comes from the Doomsday Clock, a metaphorical clock created in 1947 by a board of scientists, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which portrays threats to human existence. When this clock strikes midnight, it is said that a global catastrophe will occur.


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists meets twice a year to discuss current world events and decide whether the clock needs to move forward or backward. This year, the clock moved forward to 90 seconds until midnight due the rising conflicts from the war in Ukraine, as Putin’s threats of using nuclear weapons could quickly spiral out of control and cause a nuclear disaster. When this clock was first created, the board calculated the time until midnight based solely on the imminency of a nuclear disaster. However, climate change was soon added as another factor. Recently, with high energy prices following the invasion of Ukraine, and countries starting to invest more in gas production, carbon emissions have risen dramatically. These combined threats have caused the clock to move closer and closer to midnight for several years now, marking a time of unprecedented danger. This year however, with our new warning of 90 seconds until midnight, we are at the closest we have ever been. For comparison, the farthest we have been (since the creation of the clock) was 17 minutes to midnight, right after the Cold War ended. 


Over the years, many people have debated the credibility of the Doomsday Clock. There have been a few instances where the clock has failed to change during times of crisis, such as during the Cuban Missile Crisis. This has caused skepticism among many, but the Bulletin said that they simply did not have sufficient knowledge to move the clock hands at that time. Another reason for this doubt comes from when the clock was first set. Martyl Langsdorf, an artist and designer of the Doomsday Clock, set the clock to seven minutes originally, because “it suited [her] eye.” 


Many believe that because the clock has been ticking for so long now, we may not ever reach midnight. However, although the risk may be low, it is certainly still there. As long as we have nuclear weapons, there is always a chance that something could go wrong. The Doomsday Clock could give us valuable insight into when that time may be.