The Doomsday Clock, a symbol of humanity's proximity to global catastrophe, is now closer to midnight than ever before.
This ominous timepiece was initiated in 1947 to raise awareness about the perils of nuclear war.
For the past two years, it has stood at 100 seconds to midnight, signifying the impending doom.
The clock's hands inch closer to or farther from midnight based on the assessment of existential threats by a group of scientists and experts from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, covering areas such as nuclear weapons, climate change, and disease.
The recent shift towards disaster has been attributed to various factors, as explained by Rachel Bronson, the organization's president.
"In February 2022, weeks after our [last] announcement, our fears were born out," Bronson shares.
"Russia's thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict by accident, intention, or miscalculation is a terrible risk."
"The possibilities that the conflict could spin out of anyone's control remains high."
The committee overseeing the Doomsday Clock has recently adjusted it to 90 seconds before midnight.
Rachel Bronson, while explaining the 10-second shift forward, emphasized that the primary reason was 'largely, but not exclusively, because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine'.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia in 2022 has significantly heightened tensions between Russia and NATO.
The report also highlights additional concerns for the year, such as climate change, biological hazards, and the impact of disruptive technologies.
The statement continues: "The war's effects are not limited to an increase in nuclear danger; they also undermine global efforts to combat climate change."
Nations dependent on Russian oil and gas are actively seeking alternative natural gas suppliers. Additionally, global leaders must remain vigilant in identifying and addressing biological risks, regardless of whether they arise from natural causes, accidents, or intentional actions.
The report also underscores that pandemics are no longer rare occurrences. In 2020, the Doomsday Clock moved 100 seconds closer to midnight, and it remained unchanged in 2021 and 2022.
During the Cold War's conclusion, the clock's hands were furthest from midnight, indicating a time of greater stability, at 17 minutes away.
Rachel Bronson highlights that many global challenges result from human actions, but collective efforts can help mitigate these risks and create a safer future.