Doomsday Clock: Humanity's doom is just '100 seconds' away
The annual unveiling of the Doomsday Clock in Washington DC, United States, revealed that humanity is just 100 seconds to 'midnight' aka doomsday. The development serves as a grim reminder that humanity is as close to its doom as it has ever been. The arrival of 'midnight' was advanced amid a worsening climate crisis and the threat of nuclear warfare. Here are more details.
What is the Doomsday Clock?
The 'Doomsday Clock' was created in 1947 during the Cold War to signify the countdown to the end of humanity. The clock was founded by atomic scientists who worked on the nuclear weapons-building Manhattan Project during World War II. It was originally set at 7 minutes to 'midnight'. It has since been maintained by the University of Chicago-based non-profit: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Why was the Clock advanced?
The time set on the Doomsday Clock is decided by a panel of experts, including 13 Nobel laureates. 'Doomsday' was accelerated amid the growing threats of nuclear war and the catastrophic effects of climate change witnessed in 2019, be it the floods in India or the wildfires in the Arctic or Australia. Further, nuclear pacts that prevented warfare over decades are falling apart.
Threats of impending nuclear warfare grew in 2019
In August 2019, the 1987 US-Russia Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty collapsed. This allows both countries to deploy once-banned land-missiles over shorter ranges. The US also may not extend the New START arms reduction treaty. Further, this year, we may see the "complete collapse of the Iran nuclear deal." North Korea's abandonment of talks with the US also contributed to the acceleration of doomsday.
Yet, 'midnight' could be even nearer
A subject expert, George Washington University research professor Sharon Squassoni, said, "I have to admit [that] we set the clock in November." Squassoni added, "This was before recent military actions by the US and Iran, Iran's statement or threat that it might leave the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and North Korea's abandonment of talks with the United States."
Doomsday Clock has never been this close to 'midnight'
Previously, the Doomsday Clock was set at 'two minutes to midnight' through 2018 and 2019. The furthest the clock has ever been from 'doomsday' was after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War in 1991. It was then set at '17 minutes to doomsday'. However, never since 1947 has 'doomsday' been as close as it is today.