The first unveiling of the Doomsday Clock since the pandemic started (Picture: PA)
After living through the last 12 months, you might assume that the world had slipped a little – or a lot – closer to catastrophe.
But the scientists who manage the Doomsday clock are a bit more optimistic.
It was updated today, but remained at 100 seconds to midnight as it was last year, rather than ticking any closer.
But it’s not all good news (clearly, if you’ve been watching the news).
This is still the closest to midnight it has ever been, even if it has stayed stabled for two years in a row now.
Maintaining last year’s record means the clock’s keepers perceived threat of global apocalypse has not cooled off in the past 12 months.
Rachel Bronson, president and chief executive of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, cited the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as one of the reasons for this year’s count, saying: ‘We recognise that humanity continues to suffer as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads around the world.
‘The pandemic revealed just how unprepared and unwilling countries and the international system are to handle global emergencies properly.
‘In this time of genuine crisis, governments around the world too often abdicated responsibility, ignored scientific advice, did not co-operate to communicate effectively and consequently failed to protect health and welfare of their citizens.’
The point of the clock, set each year by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, is to estimate how close the planet is to catastrophe, with midnight marking the end of the world.
The idea was first introduced in the first magazine edition of the Bulletin which was published in June 1947.
It was initially related to the growing threat of nuclear weapons after World War Two, particularly with the growing tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States.
But the position of the minute hand is measured on more than just the threat nuclear attacks. It also looks at things like climate change, cyber warfare and bioterrorism – anything that brings the end of the world a little closer.
We took a look at how the clock was set up and what it means here.
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