Doomsday clock… scientists created this clock as a symbol. And as a warning. It signifies the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. Created in 1947 and maintained ever since by the ‘bulletin of the atomic scientists’ the clock is more than just a symbol for global catrophere that is yet to come. It’s a metaphor. A metaphor for our eventual demise if we let technology and science advance unchecked. And why is it so relevant? Because the hands on the clock haven’t moved from it’s position; 100 seconds from midnight, since 2020.
If we are to believe anything about this clock, it’s that we are on ‘dooms doorstep’. The clock’s origin can be traced to the international group of researchers called the Chicago Atomic Scientists, who participated in the Manhattan Project. After the atomic bombings of Hirashima and Nagaski, the clock grew in prominence through the magazine the Bulletin of Scientists which, since its inception, depicted the clock on every single cover. Originally this clock was made to assess the likelihood of catastrophe due to nuclear threats, however come 2007 the threat of climate change has been added to the calculations. This was to give the clock a ‘more modern feel’. Nevertheless, the clock still assesses the likelihood of a world-wide catastrophe and some would argue, more accurately, with the inclusion of climate change into this equation.
For the last 75 years or so, the clock has quietly been set at various different times throughout the years, all depending on the judgement of a select few scientists’ assumptions on how far away we as a race are from the threat of total destruction. Some of these years, the time changes, other times it stays the same. For instance, 2 years after it’s inception in 1947, the clock had come 4 minutes closer to midnight making the official time on that year 23:57. The scientists responsible for dictating the time of this clock reasoned this was as a result of the soviet union testing it’s first atomic bomb (1949) thus officially starting the nucleur arms race. Or in 2012, were the clock moved 1 minute closer to midnight at a time of 23:55 due to the lack of global and political actions to address climate change, nuclear weapons, nuclear power safety and the threat of any regional nuclear conflict.
What happens if the clock reaches midnight:
Put simply, we will never see the doomsday clock hit the midnight mark. That is, because in the event that it does reach midnight, we wouldn’t be alive to see it. The clock symbolises how close we are to global armageddon or a catastrophic climate change. If any of those events occur, it will lead to the extinction of the human race.
How accurate is the clock:
As mentioned before, this clock is more symbolic than anything else. It isn’t meant to accurately measure how far we are from global annihilation. Rather, it’s intended use is to spark intriguing and prosperous conversations of these very real threats that are on our doorstep; and with these conversations come effective global response. If it is able to do that then Rachel Bronson- president and CEO of the bulletin of atomic scientists- views the clock as a success.
What can we do to turn back the clock:
Despite all these negative connotations regarding the current time at which the clock is on, there is still hope. You as an individual, no matter of social status, can positively affect our future. Even by doing something as small as talking about all these important issues and raising awareness of the real threats that are just a stone throw away, you can help reverse the clock’s position. As quoted from Bronson herself: “You might not feel it because you’re not doing anything, but we know that public engagement moves (a) leader to do things.” Small, simple acts can be a positive attribute to the clock’s position. Walking instead of driving and recycling instead of wasting all can have a cumulative effect therefore, reversing the direction of the clock. It isn’t an impossible task. After all, the clock has reversed it’s direction before.
It’s important not to despair, especially in moments like these. Despite all the negativity and the very real potential of global annihilation, there is still hope. There is always hope. But that is only if we act fast and act responsibly. Climate change is a very real issue that for some reason we choose to ignore. And it isn’t getting any better. The good news is, we can reverse the direction of this clock and thus pull the human race back essentially from what’s ‘dooms doorstep.’