WASHINGTON (AP) — With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the specter of the use of nuclear weapons, Earth has come one step closer to Armageddon, a science-oriented advocacy group has said, moving its famous “clock of the apocalypse” until just 90 seconds before midnight.
“We really are closer to that doomsday,” former Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia said in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ annual announcement on Tuesday, assessing how close humanity is to doing itself. He and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson joined scientists to point out what they see as a collection of several existential threats, with the actions and words of Russian leader Vladimir Putin leading the way.
“People and scientists are warning us and we need to wake up now,” he said.
The advocacy group began in 1947 using a clock to symbolize the potential and likelihood of people doing something to end humanity. It moved the clock 10 seconds closer than last year, making it the closest it’s ever been to hitting 12. It’s been a whopping 17 minutes since midnight after the end of the Cold War, but in recent years, the group has changed from minutes countdown to midnight to seconds countdown.
Judgment day hasn’t happened yet.
“We’re sending a message that the situation is getting more urgent,” Bulletin president Rachel Bronson said during the online announcement. “Crises are more likely to occur and have broader consequences and long-lasting effects.”
And to highlight the effect the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had on the approaching theoretical doomsday, the group said it was also announcing the movement of the watch in Russian and Ukrainian languages for the first time.
“Putin has repeatedly raised the specter of nuclear use,” said Steve Fetter, graduate school dean and professor of public policy at the University of Maryland.
“Putin has given no indication that he is willing to accept defeat,” Fetter said. “He Might make desperate moves if no other options are available that he considers acceptable.”
Scientists and activists at the Bulletin’s announcement also mentioned the proliferation of nuclear weapons in China, Iran increasing its uranium enrichment, missile tests in North Korea, future pandemics from animal diseases, pathogens from laboratory, “disruptive technologies” and worsening climate change as other existential threats to humanity.