Doomsday Clock

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The clock's first setting in 1953 (7 minutes to midnight)
The clock's setting in 1991 (17 minutes to midnight), the farthest its been to midnight
The clock's current setting since 2020 (100 seconds until midnight), the nearest its been to midnight
How the clock would look like when its midnight meaning the possible end of humanity

The Doomsday Clock is a symbol that represents the likely possibility of human-caused threat to humanity and possible extinction or non-reversable damage. Kept going since 1947 by the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, United States.[1] The clock is a metaphor for threats to humanity.[2]

Background[change | change source]

The clock shows how close the world is to a global catastrophe as a number of minutes or seconds to midnight, changed in January of each year. When the clock hits midnight, it means that a global event that would harm humanity is near.[3]

The main reasons why the clock would change its times are nuclear risk and climate change.[4]

On January 23, 2020, the Clock was moved further, to 100 seconds (1 minute 40 seconds) before midnight, meaning that the Clock's status today is the closest to midnight since the Clock's start in 1947. In 2021 and 2022, the clock's time was unchanged, staying at 100 seconds before midnight.

Timeline[change | change source]

Doomsday Clock graph, 1947–2020. The lower points on the graph show a higher probability of a human-made global disaster, and the higher points show a lower chance of it happening.
Timeline of the Doomsday Clock[2]
Year Minutes to midnight Time (24-h) Change (minutes) Reason
1947 7 23:53  — The first setting of the Doomsday Clock. Doomsday clock (7 minutes).svg
1949 3 23:57 −4 The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb, the RDS-1, officially starting the nuclear arms race. Doomsday clock (3 minutes).svg
1953 2 23:58 −1 The United States tests its first thermonuclear weapon in November 1952 with the Soviets doing a similar test. This was the clock's closest approach to midnight (tied in 2018) until 2020. Doomsday clock (2 minutes).svg
1960 7 23:53 +5 With scientists agreeing that a nuclear war would be fatal to humanity, both the United States and Soviet Union work to avoid a nuclear war Doomsday clock (7 minutes).svg
1963 12 23:48 +5 The United States and the Soviet Union sign the Partial Test Ban Treaty, limiting atmospheric nuclear testing. Doomsday clock (12 minutes).svg
1968 7 23:53 −5 The involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War intensifies, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 takes place, and the Six-Day War occurs in 1967. France and China begin nuclear testing Doomsday clock (7 minutes).svg
1969 10 23:50 +3 Every nation in the world, except for India, Israel, and Pakistan, signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Doomsday clock (10 minutes).svg
1972 12 23:48 +2 The United States and the Soviet Union sign the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Doomsday clock (12 minutes).svg
1974 9 23:51 −3 India tests a nuclear device, and SALT II talks stop. Both the United States and the Soviet Union modernize multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). Doomsday clock (9 minutes).svg
1980 7 23:53 −2 Talks between American and Soviet leaders stop as the Soviet–Afghan War begins. As a result of the war, the U.S. Senate does not ratify the SALT II agreement. Doomsday clock (7 minutes).svg
1981 4 23:56 −3 The Clock is fixed in early 1981.[5] The Soviet war in Afghanistan toughens the U.S.' nuclear stance. U.S. President Jimmy Carter boycotts the United States from the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. The Carter administration thinks about ways in which the United States could win a nuclear war. Ronald Reagan becomes President of the United States, stoping future arms talks with the Soviet Union, and argues that the only way to end the Cold War is to win it. Events such as the Iran hostage crisis, the Iran–Iraq War, China's atmospheric nuclear warhead test, the declaration of martial law in Poland, apartheid in South Africa, and human rights abuses across the world causes the clock to move back.[6] Doomsday clock (4 minutes).svg
1984 3 23:57 −1 Tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union grow, with the ongoing Soviet–Afghan War intensifying the Cold War.[5] Ronald Reagan pushes to win the Cold War by increasing the arms race between the superpowers. The Soviet Union and its allies (except Romania) boycott the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Doomsday clock (3 minutes).svg
1988 6 23:54 +3 In December 1987, the Clock is moved back three minutes as the United States and the Soviet Union sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, to stopping intermediate-range nuclear missiles, and their relations improve.[7] Doomsday clock (6 minutes).svg
1990 10 23:50 +4 The fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, along with the reunification of Germany, mean that the Cold War is close to its end. Doomsday clock (10 minutes).svg
1991 17 23:43 +7 The United States and Soviet Union sign the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), and the Soviet Union dissolves on December 26. This is the farthest from midnight the Clock has been since its creation. Doomsday clock (17 minutes).svg
1995 14 23:46 −3 Global military spending continues at Cold War levels during fears of a post-Soviet nuclear buildup. Doomsday clock (14 minutes).svg
1998 9 23:51 −5 Both India (Pokhran-II) and Pakistan (Chagai-I) test nuclear weapons. Doomsday clock (9 minutes).svg
2002 7 23:53 −2 Little progress on global nuclear disarmament. United States rejects a series of arms control treaties and announces its plans to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Doomsday clock (7 minutes).svg
2007 5 23:55 −2 North Korea tests a nuclear weapon in October 2006,[8] Iran's nuclear ambitions, a renewed American focus on the military utility of nuclear weapons, the failure to create secure nuclear materials, and the continued presence of some 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia.[9] This is the first time climate change was added as a possible threat to mankind.[10] Doomsday clock (5 minutes).svg
2010 6 23:54 +1 Worldwide efforts to reduce nuclear weapons and limit effect of climate change.[2] New START agreement is ratified by both the United States and Russia, and more negotiations for reductions in the American and Russian nuclear weapons are already planned. Doomsday clock (6 minutes).svg
2012 5 23:55 −1 Lack of global political action to address global climate change, nuclear weapons stockpiles, the potential for regional nuclear conflict, and nuclear power safety.[11] Doomsday clock (5 minutes).svg
2015 3 23:57 −2 Concerns about a lack of global political action to stop global climate change, the modernization of nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia, and the problem of nuclear waste.[12] Doomsday clock (3 minutes).svg
2017 2 1⁄2 23:57:30 −​1⁄2
(−30 s)
United States President Donald Trump's comments over nuclear weapons, the threat of a new arms race between the U.S. and Russia, and not believing in the effects of climate change by the Trump administration.[13][14][15][16][3] Doomsday clock (2.5 minutes).svg
2018 2 23:58 −​1⁄2
(−30 s)
The failure of world leaders to deal with threats of nuclear war and climate change. This is the clock's second closest approach to midnight, matching that of 1953.[17] In 2019, the Bulletin reused the "two minutes to midnight" time, because of continuing climate change and Trump administration's not support U.S. efforts to lead the world toward decarbonization; U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty; U.S. and Russian nuclear modernization efforts; information warfare threats and other dangers from "disruptive technologies" such as synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, and cyberwarfare.[18] Doomsday clock (2 minutes).svg
2020 1 2⁄3
(100 seconds)
23:58:20 −​1⁄3
(−20 s)
Failure of world leaders to deal with the increased threats of nuclear war, such as the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) between the United States and Russia as well as increased tensions between the US and Iran, along with the ignoring climate change. It is the first time the clock uses seconds instead of minutes, instead of minutes; this is the clock's closest approach to midnight, passing that of 1953 and 2018.[19] The Bulletin said that the current issues are "the most dangerous situation that humanity has ever faced." In 2021 and 2022, the Bulletin reused the "100 seconds to midnight" time setting.[20] Doomsday clock (1.67 minutes).svg

References[change | change source]

  1. "Science and Security Board". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Timeline". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. January 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Doomsday Clock Is Reset: Closest To Midnight Since The 1950s". NPR.org. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  4. Stover, Dawn (September 26, 2013). "How Many Hiroshimas Does it Take to Describe Climate Change?". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Doomsday Clock at 3'til midnight". The Daily News. December 21, 1983.
  6. Feld, Bernard T. (January 1981). "The hands move closer to midnight". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 37 (1): 1. Bibcode:1981BuAtS..37a...1F. doi:10.1080/00963402.1981.11458799. ISSN 0096-3402.
  7. "Hands of the 'Doomsday Clock' turned back three minutes". Reading Eagle. December 17, 1987.
  8. "The North Korean nuclear test". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 2009. Archived from the original on June 27, 2009. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
  9. "'Doomsday Clock' Moves Two Minutes Closer To Midnight". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. January 17, 2007. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  10. "Nukes, climate push 'Doomsday Clock' forward". NBC News. January 15, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
  11. "Doomsday Clock moves to five minutes to midnight". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. January 14, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  12. Casey, Michael (January 22, 2015). "Doomsday Clock moves two minutes closer to midnight". CBS News. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  13. Science and Security Board Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (August 9, 2011). "It is two and a half minutes to midnight" (PDF). Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  14. "Board moves the clock ahead". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (Press release). January 26, 2017. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  15. Holley, Peter; Ohlheiser, Abby; Wang, Amy B. "The Doomsday Clock just advanced, 'thanks to Trump': It's now just 2½ minutes to 'midnight.'". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  16. Bromwich, Jonah Engel (January 26, 2017). "Doomsday Clock Moves Closer to Midnight, Signaling Concern Among Scientists". The New York Times. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  17. Bever, Lindsey; Kaplan, Sarah; Ohlheiser, Abby (January 25, 2018). "The Doomsday Clock is now just 2 minutes to 'midnight,' the symbolic hour of the apocalypse". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 25, 2018. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  18. Mecklin, John (January 24, 2019). "A new abnormal: It is still 2 minutes to midnight". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  19. Griffin, Andrew (January 23, 2020). "Doomsday clock: Humanity closer to annihilation than ever before, scientists say; Clock is now set to 100 seconds to midnight, experts announce". The Independent. Archived from the original on January 23, 2020. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  20. "Current Time". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved 2020-12-07.

Other websites[change | change source]