Doomsday Clock predicts an incoming global catastrophe

Chioma Onyema

The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947. This clock is described as a metaphor that illustrates Earth and humanity’s proximity to future threats, with midnight embodying the apocalypse. It was invented when tensions between the United States and the now-defunct Soviet Union escalated close to launching a nuclear conflict, two years after the development of atomic weapons in the infamous Manhattan Project.

The Doomsday Clock made headlines this year as its hands had never been placed this close to midnight, not even during the Cuban Missile Crisis when “nuclear Armageddon was merely a stumble away.” Six decades later, the clock is now alarmingly fixed at 90 seconds to midnight.

Science has showcased that there are far more ways to be at the precipice of a disaster than ever before.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists asserted that the clock “warns the public about how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making.”

The clock is an embodiment of how the planet is being treated and underscores the fragility of the human race and Earth’s survival.

A conflict can quickly escalate “by accident, intention, or miscalculation,” reminded the Atomic Scientists in their 2023 statement explaining the current time of 90 seconds to midnight.

There lies the true danger, the threat of not merely a catastrophic action, but the risks attached to the possibility of that action — in this case, a possible nuclear war.

The Atomic Scientists moved the minute hand of the Doomsday clock to its current time and broke the 100-seconds-to-midnight streak it held from 2020 to 2022. The scientists cited global crises as a result of climate change and the war between Russia and Ukraine as reasons.

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ statement, Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons risked the“widespread release of radioactive materials” by bringing the war to the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor sites.

The Bulletin also explained that the war has led to more interest in natural gas “when such investment should have been shrinking,” as countries dependent on Russian oil and gas are looking for alternative suppliers.

Last year, the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France — the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -— issued a joint statement. They asserted that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

Although nuclear warfare is tightly tied to politics, the effects of it are not. This is because the effects of such a war would focus solely on the life and death of human beings as well as the destruction of the environment due to the immense radiation. None of the effects or the outcome of such a war can be solved by political means because, as emphasized by the aforementioned joint statement, it is an unwinnable scenario.

All that is left is the hope that the metaphorical Doomsday Clock does not actualize by reaching midnight, as 90 seconds is close enough.