'Closest We Have Ever Been': Doomsday Clock Now At 100 Seconds To Midnight
The 'Doomsday Clock' has been moved closer to midnight as scientists and former officials warn time is running out to reverse the threats of climate change and nuclear escalation, amid growing 'disinformation'.
The symbolic clock is a globally recognised indicator of how close humanity is to destroying the world.
Each year, the clock hands are moved forward or backwards, with midnight representing a catastrophe.
On Thursday, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the clock forward to 100 seconds to midnight -- the closest to mankind's destruction the scientists have judged the world to be since it started in 1947.
The hands are closer to midnight than they were even at the height of the Cold War.
The organisation cited the threat of climate change and the risk of nuclear war, which are being compounded by "cyber-enabled disinformation" that is sowing distrust in institutions, and among nations.
It comes as world leaders meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos to discuss issues such as 'Averting a Climate Apocalypse'.
"The world needs to wake up," Mary Robinson, chair of independent group of global leaders 'The Elders' and former president of Ireland, said.
"Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential danger -- nuclear war and climate change -- that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond," the organisation said in a statement.
The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.
When the Doomsday Clock started in 1947, the organisation cited nuclear weapons as the greatest danger to humanity, as the U.S. and the Soviet Union were headed for a nuclear arms race.
The minute hand has since been reset 24 times. The farthest the clock has ever been from midnight was in 1991 when the Cold War ended and the U.S. and the Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
Climate change was first considered in 2007.
In 2018, the clock was set to two minutes to midnight, and remained unchanged in 2019 with the threat of North Korea's nuclear capabilities and climate change.
This year those threats are heightened, as the organisation said the world "sleep walks" through a newly unstable nuclear landscape and an increasingly threatened climate.
The Bulletin cited a "renewed nuclear arms race" as national leaders ended or undermined several major arms control treaties and negotiations.
"Political conflicts regarding nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea remain unresolved and are, if anything, worsening," it said.
"U.S.-Russia cooperation on arms control and disarmament is all but nonexistent."
The climate crisis also became an increasing threat, as public awareness grew and leaders failed to act.
The organisation lamented a lack of political leadership, as national leaders put forward few concrete plans to further limit greenhouse gas emissions.
"This limited political response came during a year when the effects of manmade climate change were manifested by one of the warmest years on record, extensive wildfires, and quicker-than-expected melting of glacial ice," it said.
Ban Ki Moon, Deputy Chair of 'The Elders' and former UN Secretary-General, said leaders were displaying "denial, disregard and dangerous brinkmanship".
The organisation said immediate action is needed to respond to a "heightened and growing risk of disaster".
It called on U.S. and Russian leaders to take action on restraining an "unnecessary" nuclear arms race, and all countries to publicly rededicate themselves to the temperature goal of the Paris climate agreement -- restricting warming to well below two degrees.
"The global security situation is unsustainable and extremely dangerous, but that situation can be improved, if leaders seek change and citizens demand it," it said.
"There is no reason the Doomsday Clock cannot move away from midnight."