The apocalypse is closer than ever after the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reset the time on the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, marking the first time the Clock has been set within the two minute mark.
Robert Rosner, chair of the Bulletin's Science and Security Board Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, said at a press conference Thursday morning, the clock was adjusted to reflect an updated urgency to human-caused threats such as nuclear war and accelerated global warming.
"We have normalized a very dangerous world in terms of the risks of nuclear warfare and climate change," said Rosner.
Midnight on the Doomsday Clock symbolizes the end or the world with the Bulletin setting the time at the beginning of each year. The last time the clock was set was in 2018 when the Bulletin set the timepiece at two minutes to midnight - the closest humanity has come to the metaphoric end-of-the-world since 1953 when the United States decided to pursue technology that would lead to the hydrogen bomb.
"It is 100 seconds to midnight. We are now expressing how close the world is to catastrophe in seconds -- not hours, or even minutes," the Bulletin's President Rachel Bronson said in a statement. "We now face a true emergency -- an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin for error or further delay."
The Clock was furthest from midnight in 1991 after the Soviet Union dissolved and the Cold War officially ended. The clock was set to two minutes to midnight in 2018 and remained that way through 2019 as the threat of nuclear weapons from North Korea continued.
"Civilization-ending nuclear war—whether started by design, blunder, or simple miscommunication—is a genuine possibility. Climate change that could devastate the planet is undeniably happening,” Bulletin scientists wrote in a statement. "And for a variety of reasons that include a corrupted and manipulated media environment, democratic governments and other institutions that should be working to address these threats have failed to rise to the challenge."
The Clock was first created in 1947 by University of Chicago scientists who'd helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, as the United States and the Soviet Union plunged headlong into a nuclear arms race and cold war. However, over the years, the Clock has evolved to include other threats such as climate change and other "disruptive technologies" like artificial intelligence, gene editing and cyber threats.
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