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.”