Scientists move 'Doomsday Clock' to latest time in history

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' CEO Rachel Bronson warned that the world is now facing a "true emergency", an "an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin for error or further delay".

"The world has entered into the realm of a two-minute warning", Ms. Bronson said. Sure, there's no meteor now hurtling towards Earth (that we know of, anyway) but the clock's position does indicate, on a socio-cultural, planetary level, how likely we are to blowing ourselves up or destroying the planet (via global warming or other man-made disasters).

While the Doomsday Clock didn't move in 2019 and remained at two minutes, it's been slowly moving closer to midnight in prior years.

We are closer now than ever before to the end of the world as we know it.

Not to be a doomsday sayer or anything, but really, we need to get our act together or we are going to go the way of the dinosaurs.

The group's primary concerns are nuclear war and climate change, compounded by cyber-warfare and cyber-misinformation that limit society's ability to respond. It was created by the scientists behind the Manhattan Project in 1947, and first set at 7 minutes to midnight.

But the Doomsday Clock also takes into account the likelihood of other emerging threats such as climate change and advances in biotechnology and artificial intelligence. According to the Bulletin, the world's most safe and secure period came in post-Cold War 1991, when the clock was 17 minutes from midnight.

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Since 2007, climate change has been a factor in the groups' decisions. Each year, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists sets its Doomsday Clock, gauging whether recent world events are hurling humanity toward apocalypse. The closer to midnight, the more risky circumstances, according to the organization that keeps the clock.

Members of the Science and Security Board present their rationale for the new time.

The Bulletin underscored what it called a dire global security and situation caused not just by the aforementioned threats, but also by the fact that world leaders have allowed worldwide political infrastructure for managing those threats to erode. Previously, the closest position was 2 minutes to midnight, which the clock was set to first in 1953 (following the US and then-Soviet Union's hydrogen bomb tests) and then again in 2018, amid world leaders' failure to appropriately address global warming and other humanity-threatening political and environmental issues.

It returned to 11:58 in 2018 and stayed there until Thursday's update.

Brown, a former Democratic governor of California, also said that US politicians from both major parties have not adequately worked to combat the nuclear and climate threats, and decried "vast, deep, and pervasive complacency" on a societal level.

The scientists said the world is closer now to global catastrophe than ever before and this needs to be a wake-up call for the world.

  • Sonia Alvarado