Doomsday clock – live: Experts announce how close we are to midnight and oblivion

·9-min read

The world is closer to oblivion than ever before, according to experts.

The Doomsday Clock – intended as a way of tracking how much danger humanity finds itself in – received its annual adjustment on Tuesday.

It was moved to 90 seconds to midnight. That was closer to midnight than the existing time of 100 seconds to midnight, which was set in 2019 and has stayed the same since.

The time of 100 seconds to midnight was already closer to oblivion than the clock had ever been set before.

The time is set by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which has maintained it since 1947, amid fears over nuclear war. It has never been closer to midnight than it is now.

Key Points

  • What is the Doomsday Clock?

  • Watch the announcement live

  • World leaders react to announcement

Bulletin posts its statement in Ukrainian and Russian for the first time

Tuesday 24 January 2023 19:20 , Andrew Griffin

In recognition of dangers of the war in Ukraine, and its contribution to the moving of the clock forward, the Bulletin took the unprecedented step of publishing this year’s statement on its decision in Russian and Ukrainian, as well as English. Announcing the decision, it said that it hoped that it would help the text be seen in the capital cities of the war.

You can find the Russian version here, and the Ukrainian version here.

‘Turn back the Clock’, says CEO of group behind it

Tuesday 24 January 2023 18:50 , Andrew Griffin

Rachel Bronson, the chief executive of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the leader of the announcement today, has urged the world to help reverse the dangers that it identified.

“We are living in a time of unprecedented danger, and the Doomsday Clock time reflects that reality. 90 seconds to midnight is the closest the Clock has ever been set to midnight, and it’s a decision our experts do not take lightly,” Bronson said in a statement. “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.”

War is not the only danger, Bulletin warns

Tuesday 24 January 2023 18:25 , Andrew Griffin

Almost all of today’s announcement focused on the war in Ukraine, and the broader lessons for the geopolitical community. But other experts warned that should not mean forgetting the other dangers facing humanity, such as the continuing threat from pandemics.

It pointed to a range of problems: Covid-19 and the fact that something similar could happen again, but also lab accidents that could cause future pandemics.

“Devastating events like the COVID-19 pandemic can no longer be considered rare, once-a-century occurrences. However, disease-induced disaster can be avoided if countries around the world cooperate on global health strategies,” said Suzet McKinney, DrPH, Principal and Director of Life Sciences, Sterling Bay, and member, Science and Security Board (SASB), Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

In its statement, the Bulletin also warned that the war in Ukraine could lead to other kinds of bio threats.

“Recent events—including especially the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its continuing disinformation efforts in regard to biological weapons—have changed the landscape of biological threats,” the Bulletin wrote. “The risk that Russia will engage in biological warfare increases as conditions in Ukraine become more chaotic, weakening norms of warfare. Escalation of the war in Ukraine poses many potentially existential threats to humanity; one of them is biological.”

Experts hail ‘good news’ on disinformation

Tuesday 24 January 2023 17:45 , Andrew Griffin

It’s not all doom and gloom in the Bulletin’s announcement – not entirely. Its section on “Disinformation and Disruptive Technology” notes that there has been some positive developments, too.

“On the disinformation front, there was some good news: For the most part, the American electorate rejected election deniers in 2022, and in France, President Emmanuel Macron overcame a historic challenge from his country’s far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. Meanwhile, the Biden administration continued its efforts to increase the role of scientists in informing public policy,” it writes.

But it’s not all good. It pointed to the fact that Russia has blocked the spread of truthful information about the war in Ukraine, and the use of surveillance technology in China.

Announcement ‘adjourns'

Tuesday 24 January 2023 15:54 , Andrew Griffin

The Bulletin’s announcement is over. As she brings it to a close, its CEO Rachel Bronson notes that there have been some causes for hope – and that the scientists behind the clock always search for those. But overall it ends in a very sombre tone.

You can watch it back here.

World leaders react to Doomsday Clock announcement

Tuesday 24 January 2023 15:48 , Andrew Griffin

Here, from my colleague Louise Boyle, is the reaction from world leaders to the latest move of the Doomsday Clock.

Bulletin asked what the public should ‘believe’ given decades of warnings

Tuesday 24 January 2023 15:45 , Andrew Griffin

The Bulletin has been warning about the danger for decades. So, a questioner asks, why should we pay attention to its panics now?

Bulletin CEO Bronson says that it’s intended as a way of communicating the danger. And the public can see that as a way of understanding where their focus is, and how much their pressure is working on politicians.

“What we’re conveying with this clock move is that things are not going in the right direction,” she says.

Nuclear risk rising – not just from Ukraine and Russia, experts say

Tuesday 24 January 2023 15:39 , Andrew Griffin

Much of this year’s announcement is about the threat of nuclear war. But it’s not all coming from the war in Ukraine, and the threat from Russia, the Bulletin says.

In its announcement, it also points to recent development in China, North Korea, Iran, India, and a little about the US.

In the conclusion of that part of its statement, it calls on various countries to work to minimise the danger from nuclear weapons.

“As a matter of priority, all five permanent members of the UN Security Council—including, especially, Russia—should make a renewed commitment to confront nuclear dangers through arms control efforts and strategic stability agreements,” it reads. “At the proper time, major multilateral nuclear diplomacy will be needed precisely because of a dire reality the Ukraine crisis underscores: The existential threat posed by nuclear weapons endures even as political circumstances change.”

Bulletin publishes statement explaining its warnings

Tuesday 24 January 2023 15:25 , Andrew Griffin

The full statement from the experts behind the clock has been published online. You can find it here.

That includes the shorter version, which links out to the specific statements on specific areas of concern, such as nuclear war and climate change.

You can also get the full PDF version here, which includes the full statement.

World is in imminent danger: full story

Tuesday 24 January 2023 15:17 , Andrew Griffin

Here’s our full story on the news that the world is 90 seconds from midnight, and in imminent danger, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Clock moves forward

Tuesday 24 January 2023 15:16 , Andrew Griffin

The clock is now at 90 seconds to midnight. That’s 10 seconds closer than it has ever been before.

We had been at 100 seconds to midnight since 2019.

Ukraine war has led to major threat, Bulletin warns

Tuesday 24 January 2023 15:12 , Andrew Griffin

Rachel Bronson, who heads up the Bulletin, is talking in depth about the threat from Ukraine. She notes that when the Bulletin announced last year that the clock was staying the same, it warned about Ukraine – and then the next month, Russia invaded.

It is releasing the statement in English, Russia and Ukrainian, in line with that threat, she says. It has never done that before.

Bulletin explains how it comes to its decision

Tuesday 24 January 2023 15:08 , Andrew Griffin

The head of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is explaining that the clock weighs up the threat to humanity and compares it with the 75 years that it has been running.

It is a reflection of the threats to humanity, she says. But since humanity made those threats, they can reduce them, she notes.

Live stream begins with warnings about threats

Tuesday 24 January 2023 15:06 , Andrew Griffin

The time hasn’t been announced. But the live stream has begun properly, with a series of warnings: about nuclear proliferation and increased tensions, about the climate, and the spread of technology.

Doomsday Clock announcement begins

Tuesday 24 January 2023 15:01 , Andrew Griffin

The announcement of the new time has arrived. (You can see it below.) No update on the time yet: at the moment the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists are explaining why people watch this.

Watch announcement live

Tuesday 24 January 2023 14:55 , Andrew Griffin

You can follow along with the announcement of the new time, over YouTube, here:

Will the clock change today?

Tuesday 24 January 2023 14:46 , Andrew Griffin

The Doomsday Clock already stands at its most perilous time: 100 seconds to midnight, closer than ever before. It’s been that way for the last three years.

This time around, there’s an argument that it could get closer, given that since it was last updated there has been war in Ukraine and much else besides.

But the team behind it have also been resistant in recent years to moving it forward, presumably because there is little time left: it originally moved in minutes, but in recent times has had to switch to seconds, presumably because there is less than two minutes left before midnight.

And they might have cause for optimism. Though it’s not clear where they would find it.

What is the Doomsday Clock?

Tuesday 24 January 2023 14:43 , Andrew Griffin

The clock is intended as a serious, scary metaphor that will alert people to the dangers they face. Historically, that has been nuclear war, but these days it’s also used as a measure of other threats, such as climate change and cyber attacks.

A full explanation of what it is and where it came from is here.

Hello and welcome...

Tuesday 24 January 2023 14:37 , Andrew Griffin

... to The Independent’s live coverage of the announcement of the time of the Doomsday Clock in 2023.