Science 3 min read

It's 100 Seconds to Midnight According to the Doomsday Clock

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Humanity seems destined to self-destruct.

Human-made climate change, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and disruptive technologies pose an unprecedented existential risk. Either one of these alone or together would spell the end of human civilization.

If there’s something we don’t want to be running out of in this regard, it’s time. And time is getting shorter and shorter. We are now closer than ever to the “doomsday.”

Now we have only 100 seconds to midnight, the symbolic hour for the end of the world.

Time on the Doomsday Clock is Slipping by

The Doomsday Clock is a symbol of humanity’s tendency to speed up its apocalypse. It was designed seven decades ago, and it’s been ticking forward. And now it is closer than ever to armageddon.

Now the timekeepers have moved the Doomsday Clock hands by 20 seconds to just 100 seconds to midnight. This is the nearest the hypothetical clock has ever been since its introduction in 1947.

Back then, in the 1940s and 1950s, the primary threat to humanity was nuclear weapons. But as if this isn’t enough for a potential global catastrophe, now we have other existential threats to deal with.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) monitors the Doomsday Clock and keeps the world informed about the threats that could leave it in ruins.

In 2018, BAS scientists fixed the clock’s hands at 2 minutes to midnight. That was the closest we have come to doomsday.

Moving up the clock with “20 seconds” in such a short time doesn’t bode well for the future. In other words, we are not addressing the situation with the urgency and determination it needs.

The three significant threats seem to be getting even more menacing. Nuclear weapons still exist, and their risk is at its highest since WW2. AI could get out of hand as the race for hostile super AI is on. The climate crisis could be the greatest existential challenge humanity has ever faced.

John Mecklin, BAS’ editor in chief, wrote in the statement:

“Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.”

As we have reached the 100-second mark on the Doomsday Clock, maybe it’s time for thorough self-reflection and decisive action.

You can disagree with the clock’s accuracy or the reasoning behind it in the first place, but the point is we do live in a dangerous time. The other takeaway is that we are spelling our end.

But hey, the Doomsday Clock may never chime midnight! There’s still a chance for rebooting humanity through science renaissance.

Read More: Doomsday Prepping Silicon Valley Style

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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