Scientists keep 'Doomsday Clock' at 100 seconds to midnight
Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists on Wednesday chose to keep its "Doomsday Clock" at 100 seconds before midnight, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat of nuclear war and climate change.
The Chicago-based group chose to keep the clock -- which symbolically reflects how close the world is to destruction -- at 11:58 p.m., and 20 seconds, saying the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic indicates a lack of the structures necessary to combat other grave threats.
"The hands of the Doomsday Clock remain at 100 seconds to midnight, as close to midnight as ever," said Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in a statement. "The lethal and fear-inspiring COVID-19 pandemic serves as a historic 'wake-up call,' a vivid illustration that national governments and international organizations are unprepared to manage the truly civilization-ending threats of nuclear weapons and climate change."
"Though lethal on a massive scale, this particular pandemic is not an existential threat. Its consequences are grave and will be lasting. But COVID-19 will not obliterate civilization, and we expect the disease will recede eventually," the group said.
The scientists also expressed the need for the United States to to address the issue of climate change by rejoining the Paris Agreement and reducing the use of fossil fuels. U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order last week to re-enter the pact.
The furthest the clock has ever been from midnight was set in 1991, at 11:43, or 17 minutes from "doomsday," after the United States signed the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the Soviet Union dissolved.