Humanity is in danger of being forgotten, warns Doomsday Clock

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According to the Doomsday Clock, the world is closer to oblivion than ever before.

The clock – a reflection of how close humanity is to destruction, and set by experts and scientists – moved forward 10 seconds, to 90 seconds to midnight.

The threat of nuclear war and other problems has increased in the past year, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which runs the Doomsday Clock and sets the time.

It pointed specifically to the ongoing war in Ukraine, which it said it warned about in January 2022, when it last updated its clock. It then remained at 100 seconds to midnight, as it has been since 2019 – but warned that escalating violence between Ukraine and Russia could push the world closer to the apocalypse.

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“This year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving forward the hands of the Doomsday Clock, largely (but not exclusively) because of the growing dangers of the war in Ukraine,” the Bulletin said in its statement. “The clock is now at 90 seconds to midnight – the closest it has ever come to a global catastrophe.”

That statement was first published in English, Ukrainian and Russian. That was done in the hope that the warning would be heeded in capitals involved in the war, said Rachel Bronson, the Bulletin’s chief executive.

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Almost all of the Bulletin’s statements pointed to the threat of nuclear war, mainly because of violence in Ukraine, but also elsewhere. However, it stated that there were ongoing threats from climate change, biological threats and disruptive technologies.

Covid-19 has shown how much the human population is at risk from pandemics, for example, and such outbreaks are likely to become much more common, experts warned.

When the clock moved to 100 seconds to midnight in 2019, it was already the closest to midnight ever before. It was the first time the clock had been moved forward in seconds, reflecting the increasing danger.

Mary Robinson, Ireland’s first female president who chairs “The Elders” group of former world leaders, warned during the announcement that politicians must do more to ensure the clock doesn’t keep ticking past midnight.

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“The Doomsday Clock sounds an alarm for all mankind. We are on the edge of an abyss. But our leaders are not acting with enough speed or scale to secure a peaceful and livable planet,” she said.

“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 want to avert a catastrophe. We are facing multiple existential crises. Leaders need a crisis mindset.”

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