The so-called doomsday clock, which researchers use to draw attention to the dangers to humanity, has advanced to 90 seconds before midnight because of the Ukraine war - further than ever before. Compared to the previous year, the symbolic clock moved ten seconds closer to midnight, as the organization "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists" announced on Tuesday. The scientists justified this primarily with "Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the increased risk of a nuclear escalation".
"Russia's thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons are a reminder to the world that an escalation of the conflict - by accident, by design or miscalculation - is a terrible risk," the organization said. "The possibility of the conflict spiraling out of control remains high."
The organization also points to "persistent threats from the climate crisis" and a "collapse of global norms and institutions needed to mitigate risks related to advancing technologies and biological threats like Covid-19."
"We live in a time of unprecedented peril, and the doomsday clock reflects that reality," said Bulletin editor Rachel Bronson. The experts would not have taken the decision lightly to bring the clock hands closer to midnight than ever before.
Referring to the Ukraine war, Bronson said the US government, its NATO allies and Ukraine had "numerous channels for dialogue." Those responsible would have to use all these channels "to turn back the clock".
The Doomsday Clock had advanced to 100 seconds to midnight in 2020, closer to midnight than ever before. In the following two years the clock remained unchanged.
The decision as to what time the hands of the doomsday clock will be set each year is made by board members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists - an organization that publishes an eponymous journal founded in 1945 by physicist Albert Einstein and scientists from the University of Chicago had been.
In 1947, the year it was founded, the clock was set at seven minutes to midnight. After the end of the Cold War, researchers set the hands to the farthest time before midnight: 11:43 p.m., which is 17 minutes to midnight.