The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has today moved the Doomsday Clock forward from 100 to 90 seconds till midnight – the closest it has been since the clock’s inception in 1947.
The new time reflects the "unprecedented danger" of a human-made global catastrophe, and is largely due to the ongoing proliferation of nuclear weapons and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
However, it has also been influenced by the climate crisis and the breakdown of global norms and institutions needed to mitigate risks from advancing technologies and biological threats such as COVID-19.
In a statement, the scientists outline how the war in Ukraine has undermined efforts to tackle climate change, with countries dependent on Russian fossil fuels now investing in natural gas just when this should be diminishing.
Reacting to the announcement, Sarah Mukherjee MBE, CEO of IEMA, said: “The clock remaining perilously close to midnight should remind everyone that we face severe threats to human existence.
“Climate breakdown and the biodiversity emergency are both getting worse. We need governments and organisations to raise their levels of ambition and implementation if we’re going to have a chance of solving these problems.
“This must include providing people with access to educational and training opportunities that can translate to highly paid and highly skilled jobs, to help deliver a sustainable future.”
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ statement highlights how global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels continued to rise in 2022 and hit another record high, having rebounded from the decline seen during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Not only did weather extremes continue to plague diverse parts of the globe, but they were more evidently attributable to climate change, according to the scientists.
Bio-threats, disinformation and disruptive technology are also key threats to humanity that have influenced the clock's new time, however, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the increased risk of nuclear escalation are the most immediate challenges.
Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the Doomsday Clock is “sounding an alarm for the whole of humanity”, and that “we are on the brink of a precipice”.
“But our leaders are not acting at sufficient speed or scale to secure a peaceful and liveable planet,” she continued. “From cutting carbon emissions to strengthening arms control treaties and investing in pandemic preparedness, we know what needs to be done.
“The science is clear, but the political will is lacking. This must change in 2023 if we are to avert catastrophe. We are facing multiple, existential crises. Leaders need a crisis mindset.”
Image credit: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists