The war in Ukraine pushes the “doomsday clock” to 90 seconds to midnight

WASHINGTON – With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the specter of using nuclear weapons, Earth is the closest thing to Armageddon, said a science-focused advocacy group, advancing its famous “doomsday clock” to just 90 seconds to midnight.

“We’re really getting closer to this doomsday,” former President of Mongolia Elbegdorj Tsakhia said Tuesday at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ annual announcement, in which he assessed how close humanity is to self-destructing an accumulation of several existential threats, with the actions and words of Russian leader Vladimir Putin being the most important.

“People and scientists are warning us and we need to wake up now,” he said.

The advocacy group began using a clock in 1947 to symbolize the potential and likelihood of humans doing something to end humanity. It got the clock 10 seconds closer than last year, its closest to 12 ever before. It was as much as 17 minutes past midnight after the end of the Cold War, but in recent years the group has changed from counting down the minutes until midnight until the seconds count down.

Doomsday hasn’t happened yet.

“We are sending a message that the situation is becoming increasingly urgent,” Bulletin President Rachel Bronson said in the online announcement. “Crises occur more frequently and have wider consequences and longer-lasting effects.”

And to highlight the effect Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had on the approach to the theoretical end of the world, the group said it was also announcing the watch movement in Russian and Ukrainian for the first time.

“Putin has repeatedly raised the specter of nuclear use,” said Steve Fetter, dean of graduate school and professor of public policy at the University of Maryland.

“Putin has not indicated that he is ready to accept defeat,” Fetter said. “He may take desperate steps when there are no other options he deems acceptable.”

Scientists and activists also cited China’s nuclear proliferation, Iran stepping up its uranium enrichment, North Korea’s missile tests, future animal disease pandemics, pathogens from laboratory errors, “disruptive technologies,” and worsening climate change in the Bulletin announcement as other existential ones threats to humanity.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. The war in Ukraine pushes the “doomsday clock” to 90 seconds to midnight

Sarah Y. Kim

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