scientist of “Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” the hands of the symbolic doomsday clock have advanced from 100 seconds to midnight to 90 seconds to twelve. The hands of the “Doomsday Clock” have never been closer to midnight than at the beginning of 2023. According to the researchers, a global catastrophe is therefore more likely than ever before.
This assessment has primarily to do with the war in the Ukraine to do. “Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons are a reminder to the world that escalation of the conflict – by accident, design or misjudgment – poses a terrible risk,” writes the watch’s panel of Atomic Scientists. The likelihood that the conflict could spiral out of control remains high. Another acute danger emanates from the fighting for the Chernobyl and Zaporizhia nuclear facilities: This risks the release of radioactive material.
With the war, Moscow broke decades-old agreements, such as respecting Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty, the panel said. The European security architecture, which has largely held up since the Second World War, is now at stake. In addition, Russia’s actions are eroding international norms on how states should treat each other.
The loss of trust also jeopardizes previous successes in disarmament: The Doomsday Committee points out that one of the last treaties on nuclear disarmament, “New START”, expires in 2026, unless negotiations are resumed.
The world continues to invest in fossil fuels
Last but not least, the Russian invasion also had the international willingness to cooperate against the climate change reduced, as explained by climate scientist Sivan Kartha from the Stockholm Environment Institute. In Europe, in addition to the expansion of renewable energies, a “frantic search” for new sources of natural gas was experienced in 2022. According to the “Atomic Scientists”, the increased investments in natural gas are taking place at a time when such investments should actually be declining. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil raw materials climbed to a new record last year, which is causing the CO₂ concentration in the atmosphere to continue to rise.
The scientists have been making the “Doomsday Clock” since 1947. It is intended to show how close mankind is to self-destruction. Initially, the clock stood at seven minutes to twelve, justified by the danger of nuclear weapons being used. In 1953, due to the ongoing confrontation between the superpowers US and Soviet Union, the hands were advanced to two minutes to midnight. In 1991, after the end of the Cold War, the hands stood at 17 minutes to midnight, the furthest distance from the catastrophe to date. Since 2007, the “Bulletin” has also taken climate change into account in its forecast, which, in combination with other dangers, has caused the hands to move towards midnight again. From 2020 to 2022, they were 100 seconds from catastrophe, and this previous record has now been surpassed.
With material from epd