February 1, 2023

The Doomsday Clock reveals how close we are to total annihilation

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gave Doomsday It has been ticking for exactly 75 years. But this is no ordinary watch.

It tries to gauge how close humanity is to destroying the world.

On Tuesday, the The clock was set At 90 Seconds to Midnight – This is the closest hour to that time, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which created the clock in 1947. Represents midnight. The moment we make Earth uninhabitable for humanity. From 2020 to 2022, the clock was set 100 seconds to midnight.

According to the bulletin, the watch isn’t designed to precisely measure existential risks, but rather to spur discussion on difficult scientific topics such as climate change.

The decision to move the clock forward 10 seconds this year is largely due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the growing threat of nuclear tensions, the Bulletin said in a news release. The continuing threats posed by the climate crisis, as well as the breakdown of the norms and institutions necessary to mitigate the risks associated with biological threats such as Covid-19, also played a role.

“We live in an age of unprecedented danger, and the timing of Doomsday Clock reflects that reality,” said Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of The Bulletin. said in the release. “This is a decision our experts do not take lightly. The U.S. government, its NATO allies, and Ukraine have many avenues to negotiate. We urge leaders to do their best to turn back the clock. Find them all with

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was a group of nuclear scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, the code name for the development of the atomic bomb during World War II.

Originally, it was conceived to measure nuclear risks, but in 2007 the Bulletin decided to include climate change in its calculations.

Over the last three-quarters of a century, the clock has changed based on how close scientists believe the human race is to total extinction. Some years the time changes and some years it doesn’t.

The Doomsday Clock is set annually by experts from the Bulletin Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 11 Nobel laureates.

While the clock has been an effective wake-up call when it comes to reminding people about the crises facing the planet, some have questioned the usefulness of the 75-year-old clock.

“It’s an incomplete metaphor,” Michael E. Mann, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, told CNN in 2022, noting that the framing of the clock would have combined a variety of risks. which have different characteristics at different times. Still, he added, it is “an important rhetorical device that reminds us, year after year, of the fragility of our current existence on this planet.”

Every model has constraints, Erin MacDonald, an analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Global Security Program, told CNN in 2022, adding that the bulletin has made thoughtful decisions each year about existential threats and required action. How do I get people’s attention?

“While I wish we could go back to talking minutes to midnight instead of seconds, unfortunately that doesn’t reflect reality,” he said.

The clock has never struck midnight, and Bronson hopes it never will.

He said that when the clock strikes midnight, it means that there has been some kind of nuclear exchange or catastrophic climate change that has wiped out humanity. “We I really don’t want to ever go there and we won’t know it when we do.

The purpose of the clock is not to measure risks, but to stimulate conversation and encourage public engagement in scientific topics such as climate change and nuclear disarmament.

If the watch is able to do that, Bronson sees it as a success.

He said that when the new time is set on the clock, people listen. Bronson noted that at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, UK in 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to the doomsday clock when talking about the climate crisis facing the world.

Bronson said she hopes people will discuss whether they agree with the bulletin’s decision and have a productive conversation about what the driving forces for change are.

moving It is still possible to turn back the clock with bold, concrete steps. Actually, the hand moved The furthest from midnight—a full 17 minutes past the hour—was in 1991, when President George HW Bush’s administration signed a strategic arms reduction treaty with the Soviet Union. In 2016, the clock was three minutes past midnight as a result of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord.

“We at Bulletin believe that because humans have created these risks, we can reduce them,” Bronson said. But doing so is not easy, nor has it ever been. And it requires serious work and global engagement at all levels of society.

Don’t underestimate the power of talking about these important issues with your peers, Bronson said.

“You might not realize it because you’re not doing anything, but we know that public engagement (a) force a leader to act,” she said.

To have a positive impact on Climate change, Bronson explained, look at your daily habits and see if you can make small changes in your life like how often you walk versus drive and how you heat your home.

Eat seasonally and locally, to reduce Food wasteAnd Recycling properly There are other ways to mitigate or mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.

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