If you’ve never heard of the Doomsday Clock, you’d be glad to know there’s something that can predict an impending Armageddon. The Doomsday Clock reads time distance from metaphorical midnight. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is in charge of the clock, and every year since 1947, these scientists tell us how close we are to the end of the world.
“…We are literally minutes away from a nuclear exchange should someone press a button”.Rachel Bronson, President and CEO of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
Midnight signifies apocalypse — the hour of absolute extinction. However, this fated end of the world is going to happen at the hands of humans themselves. The fictional clock measures the damage that we, as humans, make from our evolving technology and unraveling explorations.
How Does the Clock Measure Doomsday?
The folks on this group have to make decisions as to whether we are closer to catastrophe or not. Their decisions are based on the events of the previous year. Depending on how civilization and emerging technologies evolved that year, we might be closer or farther from human destruction and alienation.
In 2019, the clock was set at 2 minutes to midnight, unchanged from what it was since January 2018. This year, the clock was set to 1 minute and 40 seconds away from midnight. This is the closest it has been to midnight since 1953. The Doomsday Clock was particularly close to midnight in 1953 because it marked the height of the Cold War. Similarly, 1991 is the year with the farthest distance from midnight, because it marked the end of the Cold War.
BAS – Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has maintained the Doomsday Clock since its inception. The University of Chicago scientists founded this group. These are the same group that spearheaded the development of the first nuclear weapons for the Manhattan Project.
Consequently, the group of scientists created the clock in 1947. As might have been expected, they used a nuclear explosion and the imagery of apocalypse to convey threats — perceived or real — to humanity.
In the present day, decisions about the time on the Doomsday Clock are made by the board of the group, who get real-time contributions from another committee of sponsors. The committee of sponsors includes 15 Nobel Laureates.
Closer To Midnight Than Ever Before
When the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists built the clock, the primary threat to human extinction was nuclear weapons. Now, there are even more dangers that influence the ticking of the clock. Earth-altering hazards like catastrophic climate changes, pandemics, and disruptive technologies all have significant weight in predicting how soon Armageddon will happen.
The president and CEO of the Bulletin Atomic Scientists — Rachel Bronson — announced the new time in January. She spoke about the rising hazards and how the world as a whole must put in a lot of effort to curb it. This must happen before we can begin to move the hands on the clock farther from the stroke of midnight.
“Danger is High, and the Margin for Error is Low”.Rachel Bronson, President and CEO of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
Bronson urged that the world has entered into the phase of a two-minute warning. This makes the danger levels incredibly high and allows only a low margin for error. 2019 saw a significant decline in nuclear conditions, especially with the decisions by global leaders, making dangerous situations worse.
For instance, the prior nuclear treaties between nations that would have served as a measure to curtail nuclear activities are crumbling without any new agreements in sight. Also, it would seem that humans are weaponizing everything — including space. Recently, the USA announced the new Division of its Armed Forces — the US Space Force — claiming space to be a new arena for weapons development. Artificial Intelligence now makes the decisions in the deployment of weapons in some military control. Probably the scariest part would be the growing deluge of fake news and accompanying proof that are actually “deepfake” footage that’s difficult to tell apart from original videos.
What Will the Future Bring?
It is increasingly bothersome to note that the hand of the fictional clock keeps moving closer to the midnight hour. We can begin to take steps to fix the ticking bomb we have on our hands but it will take a lot of communication, nuclear and climate treaties, and reducing the possibility of bioweapons. Admittedly, this is a big ask of the global leaders in the world, who believe that peace only reigns because there is the possibility of a war.
With rising tensions all over the world, information — whether real or not — can determine the fate of the human race. Content from digitally manipulated footage can be the difference between peace and wartime. The Doomsday Clock now stands at 100 seconds to midnight, and Armageddon is closer than it’s ever been.