“Make No Mistake”: Clock Freeze No Indicator of Stability; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Cites Wars, Multi-Dimensional Nuclear Threats, Failures to Address the Climate Crisis, Bio-Threats, and Artificial Intelligence.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 23, 2024 – The Doomsday Clock was reset at 90 seconds to midnight, still the closest the Clock has ever been to midnight, reflecting the continued state of unprecedented danger the world faces. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, stewards of the Doomsday Clock, emphasized in their announcement that the Clock could be turned back, but governments and people needed to take urgent action.
A variety of global threats cast menacing shadows over the 2024 Clock deliberations, including: the Russia-Ukraine war and deterioration of nuclear arms reduction agreements; the Climate Crisis and 2023’s official designation as the hottest year on record; the increased sophistication of genetic engineering technologies; and the dramatic advance of generative AI which could magnify disinformation and corrupt the global information environment making it harder to solve the larger existential challenges.
Rachel Bronson, PhD, president and CEO, the Bulletin, said: “Make no mistake: resetting the Clock at 90 seconds to midnight is not an indication that the world is stable. Quite the opposite. It’s urgent for governments and communities around the world to act. And the Bulletin remains hopeful—and inspired—in seeing the younger generations leading the charge.”
The Doomsday Clock’s time is set by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board (SASB) in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes nine Nobel Laureates. Previously in January 2023, the Doomsday Clock was set at 90 seconds to midnight, the closest to midnight the Clock had ever been.
The Doomsday Clock statement states: “Ominous trends continue to point the world toward global catastrophe. The war in Ukraine and the widespread and growing reliance on nuclear weapons increase the risk of nuclear escalation. China, Russia, and the United States are all spending huge sums to expand or modernize their nuclear arsenals, adding to the ever-present danger of nuclear war through mistake or miscalculation. In 2023, Earth experienced its hottest year on record, and massive floods, wildfires, and other climate-related disasters affected millions of people around the world. Meanwhile, rapid and worrisome developments in the life sciences and other disruptive technologies accelerated, while governments made only feeble efforts to control them […] But the world can be made safer. The Clock can move away from midnight.”
Gov. Jerry Brown, executive chair of the Bulletin said: “As though on the Titanic, leaders are steering the world toward catastrophe–more nuclear bombs, vast carbon emissions, dangerous pathogens, and artificial intelligence. Only the big powers like China, America, and Russia can pull us back. Despite deep antagonisms, they must cooperate – or we are doomed.”
Bill Nye, who participated in the 2024 Doomsday Clock announcement, said: “For decades, scientists have been warning us of the dangers facing humankind. We could be facing catastrophe unless we better manage the technologies we’ve created. It’s time to act.”
The Many Dimensions of Nuclear Threat
An Ominous Climate Change Outlook
Evolving Biological Threats
The Dangers of AI
How To Turn Back the Clock
Everyone on Earth has an interest in reducing the likelihood of global catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, advances in the life sciences, disruptive technologies, and the widespread corruption of the world’s information ecosystem. These threats, singularly and as they interact, are of such a character and magnitude that no one nation or leader can bring them under control. That is the task of leaders and nations working together in the shared belief that common threats demand common action.
As the first step, and despite their profound disagreements, three of the world’s leading powers—the United States, China, and Russia—should commence serious dialogue about each of the global threats outlined here. At the highest levels, these three countries need to take responsibility for the existential danger the world now faces. They have the capacity to pull the world back from the brink of catastrophe. They should do so, with clarity and courage, and without delay.
Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The Doomsday Clock is set every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes nine Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to global catastrophe caused by manmade technologies.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Additional members of the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board will be available for interviews on the day of and after the announcement: https://thebulletin.org/about-us/science-and-security-board/.
An embeddable HD stream of the announcement is available here: https://youtu.be/-p67zvLaUFs
Hi-res video, photos, headshots, and logos are available to members of the media at https://bit.ly/DDC2024PressKit. A streaming replay of the Doomsday Clock announcement and the full text of the 2024 Statement are available online at http://www.TheBulletin.org/.
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