Time running out on famous Doomsday Clock

Maggie Eubanks, News Editor

The clock is ticking closer to armageddon, at least according to The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. They announced on Tuesday that the theoretical Doomsday Clock currently sits at 90 seconds to midnight. 

According to ABC News, 90 seconds is the closest the clock has ever been to midnight. The scientific body that created the clock cited conflicts such as the war in Ukraine and Russia as their reasoning for placing the clock so close to doom. 

While the clock is theoretical, it is used as a representation and a warning to show the public how close the world is to nuclear armageddon. For the past three years, the clock maintained its position at 100 seconds to midnight, but this move by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists shows how seriously they are taking world conflicts into consideration.

The move was alarming to Mary Robinson, former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. “The Doomsday Clock is sounding an alarm for the whole of humanity,” Robinson said. “We are on the brink of a precipice. But our leaders are not acting at sufficient speed or scale to secure a peaceful and livable planet.”

Some scientists believe Russia played a significant role in the decision to move the clock up to 90 seconds because of President Vladimir Putin’s constant threats to use nuclear weapons. 

“Even if nuclear use is avoided in Ukraine,” Steve Fetter, dean of the graduate school and professor of public policy at the University of Maryland, said, “the war has challenged the nuclear order—the system of agreements and understandings that have been constructed over six decades to limit the dangers of nuclear weapons.”

At first Putin told reporters that he ruled out any possibility of using nuclear weapons. But in a recent meeting of Russia’s Human Rights Council at the Kremlin, Putin said, “As for the idea that Russia wouldn’t use such weapons first under any circumstances, then it means we wouldn’t be able to be the second to use them either—because the possibility to do so in case of an attack on our territory would be very limited.”

Putin also said Russia would use “all available means” at its disposal. 

Experts at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists hope that by moving the clock closer to midnight, it will encourage leaders around the world to take steps away from nuclear war.