If you’re over 40, perhaps you remember the iconic R.E.M. song ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).’ In the 90s, many of us jammed to it without a care in the world but, today, that piece might be all too significant for all the wrong reasons.
On Tuesday morning at 12 am ET, the Doomsday Clock was moved forward to 90 seconds, marking the closest we’ve ever been to a human-caused catastrophe, end-of-the-world scenario, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Although the move closer to midnight is only 10 seconds since last year, humanity can ill-afford continuous setbacks. If midnight represents a human catastrophe at the highest level, experts insist we’re entering 2023 at 11:58:30 PM.
Per Wikipedia, the Doomsday Clock, set annually every January, is a symbol that represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe, in the opinion of the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
“It’s a way to remind people of issues that are so big they post a threat to civilization as a whole,” said Steve Fetter, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland and member of the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board, which sets the clock each year.
The 22 members of the Science and Security Board are asked two questions that help them determine the clock’s new setting for the year:
- Is humanity safer or at greater risk this year than last year?
- Is humanity safer or at greater risk compared to the 76 years the clock has been set?
The Clock’s original setting in 1947 was seven minutes to midnight. Since then, it’s moved backward eight times and forward 16 times.
The Clock’s safest setting to date was logged in 1991 when scientists moved it back a whopping seventeen minutes from midnight. Undoubtedly, that occurred as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
Of course, the most dangerous setting recorded in the Doomsday Clock’s 76-year history is NOW!
The likely reasons are below:
Increased chance of nuclear disaster due to the Russia-Ukraine War and NATO’s increased militaristic support of Ukraine. Will NATO and Russia eventually start fighting each other? If so, there’s a fair chance nuclear weapons would eventually be used.
China’s seemingly still hellbent on invading Taiwan. Should the former follow through, a world war could ensue as Taiwan has well-armed allies, including the U.S.
Weather records continue to be set due to climate change, which will only get worse. Although we can’t prevent many of the climate-related problems we’ll see in the future, we still have time to mitigate its impact going forward; But, time is of the essence.
COVID has reminded us of how vulnerable we are to pandemics and plagues. If it was man-made, who’s to say there won’t be another outbreak of something else due to sloppiness in handling materials or terrorism? What if the next pandemic is even worse?
Disinformation, the newest and most overlooked item, could easily pave the way toward a nuclear disaster or doomsday plague. Just in the U.S., alone, we’ve seen people easily duped by conspiracy theories, such as the anti-vaxxers and election deniers who, for whatever reasons, will believe – and act – on lies without a shred of evidence to support their thinking. In fact, some will still insist smoking cigarettes is perfectly healthy despite never-ending data and a boatload of proof by top scientists that say the contrary.
Please share your thoughts below.