Scientists behind the Doomsday Clock believe the world is slipping closer to a global man-made catastrophe.
In 2019, the clock – which serves as a metaphor for global apocalypse – was at 11.58pm, with 12.00am being the moment of “global catastrophe”.
On Thursday afternoon, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists revealed that in 2020, the clock had been set to 100 seconds to midnight – and the world could face a “catastrophe sooner rather than later”.
During the annual event, which sees prominent figures reveal how close to "midnight" humanity is, it was announced the world was worsening due to the threat of nuclear threat and climate change.
Speaking at a press conference, CEO Rachel Bronson said: during the unveiling of the clock: "Both nuclear and climate conditions are worsening and we note that over the last two years, world leaders discard the most effective methods for dealing with complex threats in favour of their own narrow interests and domestic political gain.”
She continued: “Leaders have helped to create a situation that will, if unaddressed, lead to catastrophe sooner rather than later.”
Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, who is also the deputy chair of The Elders, said: “We share a common concern over the failure of the multilateral system to address the existential threats we face.
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“From the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, to deadlock at nuclear disarmament talks and division at the UN Security Council – our mechanisms for collaboration are being undermined when we need them most.”
The countdown was established in 1947 by experts from The Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists who were working on the Manhattan Project to design and build the first atomic bomb.
The bulletin is an independent non-profit organisation run by some of the world’s most eminent scientists.
The Doomsday Clock was originally intended to warn of the threat of nuclear armageddon, but the clock also takes into account the likelihood of other emerging threats such as climate change and advances in biotechnology and artificial intelligence.
Over the years, its hands have moved forwards and backwards as the threats to the world changed.
In 2015, the clock was jumped forward by two minutes, taking it to three minutes to midnight. It remained unchanged in 2016.
In 2017, the clock was set two-and-a-half-minutes to midnight.