Doomsday Clock Inches Closer to Midnight

Have you ever heard of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists?

It's not exactly the light reading you'd find in a doctor's or dentist's office. But it is a non-technical academic journal that covers global security and public policy issues. 

Those issues are generally related to the dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction. Plus climate change and emerging technologies and diseases. 

The Bulletin is best known for occasionally announcing that the "Doomsday Clock" has inched closer to midnight. The idea is that when the clock reaches that hour, nukes might be flying, oceans will start drying up, and a pandemic will spiral out of control. 

The Bulletin describes the hands of the clock as a "metaphor for how close humanity is to self-annihilation." In other words, when it reaches midnight, life as we know it will be over. Forever.

First Clock Movement in 3 Years

Two weeks ago, the Bulletin's scientists, security experts, and their board of sponsors – which includes 10 Nobel laureates – moved the Doomsday Clock to 90 seconds before midnight. This is the closest we've ever been to midnight. 

Ever since January 2020, the clock had been at 100 seconds prior to midnight.

At that time, the scientists cited "reckless language" by U.S. President Donald Trump and Putin regarding nuclear weapons. They warned the two leaders to stop acting like "petulant children."  

They also blamed Trump's "growing disregard of scientific expertise on climate change" for the clock movement.

Ukraine Invasion Mostly to Blame 

Back in 2017, the scientists declared that the clock had moved forward 30 seconds to 2½ minutes before midnight.

At the time, it was the closest to midnight the clock had been moved since the United States and the then-Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were trading threatening words during the Cold War. 

The recent 10-second movement was explained by the scientists as the result of Vladimir Putin's nuclear threats in connection with the war in Ukraine, and the growing climate crisis. 

They said the latest movement was "due largely but not exclusively to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the increased risk of nuclear escalation."

'A Time of Unprecedented Danger' 

They then added, "Russia's thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict – by accident, intention, or miscalculation – is a terrible risk. The possibility that the conflict could spin out of anyone's control remains high."

They also said that the timepiece change "was also influenced by continuing threats posed by the climate crisis and the breakdown of global norms and institutions needed to mitigate risks associated with advancing technologies and biological threats such as Covid-19."  

Rachel Bronson is president and CEO of the Bulletin. She said, "We are living in a time of unprecedented danger, and the Doomsday Clock time reflects that reality. 

"We urge leaders to explore all (channels for dialogue) to their fullest ability to turn back the clock."

Einstein Was a Founder

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was established by former Manhattan Project physicists including Albert Einstein after the atomic bombing of Japan. The clock was set at seven minutes before midnight. 

Now that it's only 90 seconds before midnight, they say that "the probability of global catastrophe is very high."   

I'm no more qualified than anyone else to predict if or when a nuclear war will end most life on this planet.

But I do know that the U.S. and Russia fully understand that if either of us starts a nuclear war, the other side will finish it. There will be no winners. 

Grid Collapse Is a More Likely Scenario

Rather than worry about an apocalyptic nuclear war, perhaps the atomic scientists should warn people to prepare for a much more likely scenario.

Such as a collapse of the electrical grid. For all we know, the Doomsday Clock could be at 11:59:59 p.m. for that possibility.

As horrible as an electrical grid shutdown would be, at least we'll be able to provide for ourselves and our families if we've stockpiled survival food, water, and other essential items, and acquired a water purification device and a solar generator.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist – or even an atomic scientist – to figure that out.

The Best Response? Be Prepared!

Now, just because a committee of scientists moves the second hand of an imaginary clock 10 seconds forward doesn't mean we should all go into panic mode. 

And I think we can all be thankful that the Doomsday Clock won't spring forward one hour on March 12 like most of the country's clocks will. 

But this movement is a good indication that those of us interested in preparing for an uncertain future aren't the only ones concerned about that future. 

With extreme weather increasing in frequency and intensity… with the country's aging infrastructure under attack… with nuclear threats from countries such as Russia and North Korea… and with civil unrest spinning out of control, we all need to get ready for the chaos that seems inevitable.

Even if the Doomsday Clock never gets closer to midnight than 90 seconds, I strongly encourage you to prepare the best you can.   


  • James Welsh - February 09, 2023

    There has been articles on the history channel that show ET crafts have been stationed near missile silos many times . The missiles would be set in a preset postition and when they would check them again at a later time the missiles would be totally disengaged. All rockets that have harmful payloads dont make it into space. The same mistakes made in the 1940s wont happen again the Lord Jesus Christ is running the show. ALL people keep your Faith. J.W

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