“From cutting carbon emissions to strengthening arms control treaties and investing in pandemic preparedness, we know what needs to be done. The science is clear, but the political will is lacking …. Leaders need a crisis mindset.”
Chair of The Elders
former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Doomsday Clock
The Doomsday Clock is a symbol that represents the likelihood of a human-made global catastrophe. Maintained since 1947, the clock is a metaphor for threats to humanity from unchecked scientific and technological advances. Mary Robinson’s quote references Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the increased risk of nuclear escalation. The new Clock time was also influenced by continuing threats posed by the climate crisis and the breakdown of global norms and institutions. Global norms are needed to mitigate risks associated with advancing technologies and biological threats such as COVID-19. Rachel Bronson, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said, “We are living in a time of unprecedented danger. The US government, its NATO allies and Ukraine have a multitude of channels for dialogue; we urge leaders to explore all of them to their fullest ability to turn back the Clock.”
The Doomsday Clock’s time is set by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board with the support of the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, which includes 10 Nobel Laureates. Previously, the Doomsday Clock had been set at 100 seconds to midnight since 2020. The Doomsday Clock statement explains,
Russia’s war on Ukraine has raised profound questions about how states interact, eroding norms of international conduct that underpin successful responses to a variety of global risks. And worst of all, Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict—by accident, intention, or miscalculation—is a terrible risk. The possibility that the conflict could spin out of anyone’s control remains high . . .. Russia has also brought its war to the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor sites, violating international protocols and risking the widespread release of radioactive materials. Efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency to secure these plants so far have been rebuffed.
Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: “The Doomsday Clock is sounding an alarm for the whole of humanity. We are on the brink of a precipice. But our leaders are not acting at sufficient speed or scale to secure a peaceful and livable planet.”
- The 2023 Doomsday Clock statement details other threats and threat multipliers beyond the most immediate risks related to the Russia-Ukraine War: nuclear weapons, the climate crisis, bio-threats such as pandemics, etc., disinformation and disruptive technology. Learn more about one of these threats/threat multipliers by reading the entire Doomsday Clock statement.
- The COVID pandemic and a record-breaking hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico lay bare the truth of our national security needs. Sign onto Peace Action alerts and contact your U. S. Senators here. Or, to have even more impact, contact your Senators and explain in your own words what would make our world more secure and where to shift bloated Pentagon dollars, for example, access to affordable health and mental health care, water, utilities and housing; a living wage for all workers; a healthy planet; etc.
Did you know?
Pope Francis’ 2023 World Day of Peace message which was released on December 8, pointed a way toward post-pandemic peace. His insights call us again to contribute to the creation of a culture of care for the common good.