About a week ago, the Doomsday Clock was reset, but that’s not the main point. The more sensitive issue is about when it was set to. At the moment, the clock is set to just 100 seconds to mid-night, and that’s not good news. In fact, according to the previous settings of the clock, this is the closest it’s been set relative to mid-night. In other words, this is the closest that the world has come to total destruction. You should be very afraid.
Understanding The Doomsday Clock
The Domsday Clock reflects the status of the world in relation to peace and especially the proliferation of nuclear weapons. For starters, nukes have been known to be the ultimate end of human civilization if ever the world powers possessing them decide to fire at each other. For example, since the era of the Cold War, the US and Russia have maintained a balance of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) – if one fires nukes at the other, the other automatically unleashes its own arsenal, leading to the destruction of both.
So far, this balance of power has done well to keep these two powers from going for each other’s throats. However, things seem to be changing now, and that’s what’s even more alarming. The emergence of other nuclear powers like North Korea and the ongoing spat between western powers and Iran – a country that also wants to develop nuclear weapons – isn’t helping the situation.
Why The Setting?
Every year, an organization known as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists come together to assess the world situation and decide what time it is on the Doomsday Clock. Tensions have been rising over the years. According to Rachel Branson, President of the Bulletin, the clock’s current setting at 100 seconds to mid-night means that the world is closer to total catastrophe than it has ever been.
In essence, this is an emergency that needs immediate attention given the current world affairs. In Rachel’s own words,” We now face a true emergency - an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin for error or further delay.”
A Bit Of History
The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 after the end of the Second World War. Over the following decades, a nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union presented the greatest danger to humanity. The two powers were involved in a rather aggressive arms race and battle for dominance. However, as time passes, more threats have come up.
In 2007, climate change was included among the threats facing humanity. Over the years, other threats have been included – such as the emerging technologies covering Artificial Intelligence, Cyber threats, diseases, and gene editing. Basically, the world has become a much more dangerous place than it was a few decades ago.