Doomsday Clock unmoved by pandemic; reads 100 seconds to midnight
Humankind remains 100 seconds away from Armageddon. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has decided the Doomsday Clock reading shall not be changed this year. The clock is the closest it has ever been to midnight (doomsday) but hasn't gone closer either. The message from the Bulletin touches upon COVID-19, accelerations in nuclear weapons programs, and the persistent threat of climate change.
The Doomsday Clock isn't too optimistic about 2021
“Today, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists leaves the Doomsday Clock unchanged. It is 100 seconds to midnight,” — @RachelBronson1, President CEO, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists #DoomsdayClock https://t.co/Vn178C3EPM pic.twitter.com/cQtNgWRt3h— Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (@BulletinAtomic) January 27, 2021
Doomsday Clock, brainchild of nuclear weapon pioneers; highlights existential threat
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project. The Bulletin created the clock in 1947 as an indicator of threat to humanity from its own actions. Every year, the clock is set by the Bulletin's Science and Security Board, in consultation with sponsors including 13 Nobel laureates.
Bulletin criticizes global response to COVID-19 and misinformation
Dr. Rachel Bronson, executive director and publisher of the Bulletin, notes that COVID-19 was a reminder to world leaders that an existential crisis is a real possibility. The Bulletin highlighted the unpreparedness and woeful response of world leaders to tackle the pandemic. The virtual event also highlighted that the worsening spread of misinformation was multiplying the growing threat of nuclear conflict.
The board hails Biden, but still refuses to ease off
A member of the Bulletin's science board said US President Joe Biden's acknowledgment of international cooperation, science-based policy-making, and the threat from climate change puts the world on better footing to address problems. The clock's position takes into account President Biden rejoining the Paris Agreement. Recently, the US agreed to extend the New START nuclear arms control agreement with Russia for five years.
The Bulletin urges people to act in collective better interest
Although symbolic, the clock has drawn flak for crying wolf and scare-mongering. Others argue the clock intends to spur people and governments to action as "safer" isn't "safe." The Bulletin said it believes humans can manage threats posed by modern technology even in times of crisis. It urged global leaders to actively combat climate change and eliminate nuclear weapons for good.