Scientists have announced the Doomsday Clock will remain at two minutes to midnight, for the second year running.
The countdown was established in 1947 by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, with the clock serving as a metaphor for global apocalypse, indicating how close we are to disaster.
Last year, the clock moved forwards by 30 seconds in January. The clock has been set to two minutes to midnight ever since, which is the closest the hands have ever got to midnight.
The last time the clock was set at this time was in 1953.
Originally intended to warn the world of the threat of nuclear apocalypse, the clock has since taken into account factors including climate change and advances in artificial intelligence.
Describing the current situation as being ‘a new abnormal’, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says the clock currently points to ‘the devolving state of nuclear and climate security’, as well as ‘a qualitative change in information warfare and a steady misrepresentation of fact that is undermining confidence in political structures and scientific inquiry’.
Their statement also described how science and technology is rapidly progressing which could be ‘potentially dangerous’.
Rachel Bronson, president and chief executive of the The Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, described what the non-profit organisation, which is run by some of the world’s top scientists, meant by ‘a new abnormal’:
This new abnormal is a pernicious and dangerous departure from the time when the United States sought a leadership role in designing and supporting global agreements that advanced a safer and healthier planet.
The new abnormal describes a moment in which fact is becoming indistinguishable from fiction, undermining our very abilities to develop and apply solutions to the big problems of our time.
The new abnormal risks emboldening autocrats and lulling citizens around the world into a dangerous sense of anomie and political paralysis.
The statement added how this year, mankind faces two ‘existential threats’; nuclear weapons and climate.
While these threats have existed for a while, they were exacerbated over the past year, with the US abandoning the Iran nuclear deal as well as withdrawing from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
Global carbon dioxide emissions also climbed while the US withdrew from the 2015 Paris agreement, which aims to combat climate change.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists state the situation the world is currently in is as concerning as it was during the Cold War, adding:
The current international security situation — what we call the ‘new abnormal’ — has extended over two years now.
It’s a state as worrisome as the most dangerous times of the Cold War, a state that features a constantly shifting landscape of simmering disputes that keep the world unsettled and multiply the chances that major military conflict will erupt.
Brash leaders, intense diplomatic disputes, and regional instabilities combine to create an international context in which nuclear dangers are all too real.
In 1947 the clock was originally set to seven minutes to midnight.
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Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.