Doomsday Clock Now 90 Seconds From Apocalyptic Midnight
In a distressing reminder of humanity’s actions, the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic timepiece showing the world’s proximity to a global catastrophe, was recently fixed at 90 seconds to midnight by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It marks the closest the clock has been to midnight since its establishment in 1947, highlighting the current dangers to human existence.
The Bulletin pointed to several key factors influencing the clock’s position in its Jan. 24 announcement. Scientists identified the ongoing war in Ukraine, combined with Russia’s ongoing nuclear threats, as significant contributors. The “horrors of modern war” in regions such as Israel and Gaza, 2023’s record-breaking temperatures resulting from the climate crisis, advances in genetic engineering technologies, and the increasing sophistication of AI technology all pushed the clock closer to midnight. Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin, expressed deep concern about the sustainability of the 90-second position, emphasizing the urgent need for global action.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is a nonprofit founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and former Manhattan Project scientists to educate the public about potential world-ending dangers. Each year, it updates the time on the Doomsday Clock by reflecting on potential existential threats such as nuclear war, biological threats, artificial intelligence, and the climate crisis, with midnight symbolizing the end of the world. The Bulletin’s science and security board determines the time, supported by its board of sponsors, which includes 10 Nobel laureates.
Critics have accused the Bulletin of using “scare tactics” with the clock’s gradual but alarming movements over the decades. The Doomsday Clock, which previously only used whole minutes before 2017, now measures seconds, highlighting the urgency for action on global threats.
Responding to criticism, the Bulletin asserts that it maintains no political agenda, stating that it has moved the clock away from midnight almost as frequently as it has towards it. Despite the alarming 90-second position, Bronson remains hopeful, citing the younger generations’ active role in pushing for global change.
The furthest the Doomsday Clock has been from midnight was in 1991. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, it was set at 17 minutes from midnight, marking a hopeful period of prosperity.
Luis Apolo Staff Reporter teen/1708395857/1613367592
1. What is the Doomsday Clock? What was done to it, according to paragraph 1?
2. What were the key factors influencing the clock's position in the Jan. 24 announcement?
3. What is the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists? Explain its activities in detail.
4. What have critics accused the Bulletin of? How has the Bulletin responded to criticism?
1. What do you think of the Doomsday Clock?
2. What do you think about the wars that have happened in recent times?
3. What is the role of a non-profit organization? Name some non-profits you know.
4. Have you ever been criticized? What for? How did you feel?