What is the Doomsday Clock and why is it only 90 seconds from the Apocalypse?

The Doomsday Clock is now a minute and a half past midnight, the closest it has ever come to a global catastrophe.


The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists advances its symbolic Doomsday Clock  this 2022 to 90 seconds to midnight, in its assessment of how close we are to the Apocalypse .

This year, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Science and Safety Board moves the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward , largely (though not exclusively) due to the growing dangers of war in the Ukraine. The clock is now a minute and a half past midnight, the closest it has ever come to a global catastrophe. In recent years it had been kept to 100 seconds.

Why is the Doomsday Clock ticking?

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is an academic publication addressed to the general public dedicated to issues related to the survival and development of humanity, facing the threats of nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction, climate change, emerging technologies and diseases.

Published bimonthly, it was first published in 1945 as the ‘ Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago ‘, when it was founded by members of the Manhattan Project after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The 2023 report notes that Russia’s war against Ukraine has raised “profound questions” about how states interact, eroding the norms of international conduct that underpin successful responses to a variety of global risks.

“And worst of all, Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict – by accident, intent or miscalculation – is a terrible risk. The possibility of the conflict spiraling out of control remains looming.” high,” he concludes in a statement.

The war has reached the sites of the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactors, violating international protocols and risking a widespread release of radioactive materials. So far, the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency to protect these plants have been rebuffed.

As Russia’s war against Ukraine continues, the latest nuclear weapons treaty between Russia and the United States, New START, is in jeopardy. Unless the two sides resume negotiations and find a basis for further reductions, the treaty will expire in February 2026. This would eliminate mutual inspections, deepen mistrust, spur a nuclear arms race and increase the possibility of a nuclear exchange, it highlights. the new report.

The effects of war are not limited to an increase in the nuclear danger; they also undermine global efforts to combat climate change. Countries dependent on Russian oil and gas have sought to diversify their supplies and suppliers, leading to increased investment in natural gas precisely when that investment should have declined.

Against the backdrop of a hot war and against the backdrop of nuclear threats, the report argues that “the continuing stream of misinformation about bioweapons laboratories in Ukraine raises fears that Russia itself is considering deploying such weapons, which many experts believe it is still developing.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has increased the risk of the use of nuclear weapons, heightened the specter of the use of biological and chemical weapons, hampered the global response to climate change, and hampered international efforts to address other global problems. The invasion and annexation of Ukrainian territory have also violated international norms in ways that may embolden others to take actions that challenge previous agreements and threaten stability.