A panel of international scientists has warned that humanity’s continued existence is at greater risk than ever before, largely as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set its Doomsday Clock to 90 seconds to midnight, the closest to midnight since it was established in 1947, to illustrate global existential threats at the dawn of the nuclear age.
Rachel Bronson, the Bulletin’s president and CEO, said the clock was moved from 100 seconds to midnight, where it had been for the previous three years, “in large part, though not exclusively, because of the growing dangers of the war in Ukraine.”
“We live in a time of unprecedented danger, and the timing of Judgment Day reflects that reality.” “Ninety seconds to midnight is the closest the clock has ever been set to midnight, and it’s a decision our experts don’t take lightly,” said Bronson.
The hands of the clock are set each year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Committee with the support of its Board of Sponsors, which includes 10 Nobel laureates.
The statement accompanying the decision states: “Russia’s war against Ukraine has raised profound questions about how states interact with each other, undermining the norms of international behavior that underpin successful responses to various global risks.” And worst of all, Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalating conflict—accidentally, intentionally, or mistakenly—is a terrible risk.
“The potential for the conflict to spiral out of anyone’s control remains high,” it said, adding that Russia’s invasion had placed nuclear reactors in Chernobyl and Zaporozhye in the middle of a war zone, violating international protocols and risking “a widespread release of radioactive materials.”
At the hour’s announcement, Steve Fetter, dean of graduate studies and professor of public policy at the University of Maryland, asked a reporter for Russia’s state-run Tass news agency whether the Western purchase of modern weapons to Ukraine, potentially including tanks and fighter jets, had an impact on arms control and risks. from nuclear war.
“The U.S. and Russia have a strong shared interest in avoiding nuclear war and minimizing nuclear risks, and we should be able to continue that,” Fetter said. “US military aid to Ukraine may complicate those efforts, but… I think.” [it] it is essential to the long-term risks of nuclear war, nuclear proliferation, that Ukraine is able to resist invasion and repel Russian forces. And that’s why we should do everything we can to support Ukraine in this.
When the Doomsday Clock was set to 100 seconds to midnight in 2020, it was a record at the time and Bulletin scientists said at the time that it was driven by the risk of civil collapse if nuclear weapons were used and the climate crisis at a “deeply unstable” point in history.
The nearest hour at the height of the Cold War was two minutes to midnight in 1953 after the first detonation of the hydrogen bomb. At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the hands were at seven minutes to midnight, but the bulletin board decided not to move them despite the crisis, because by the time the decision was made, the near disaster appeared to have given Washington and Moscow new impetus to work on risk reduction and control. weapons.