The ‘Doomsday Clock’ has 100 seconds left

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The 'Doomsday Clock' has 100 seconds left
The 'Doomsday Clock' has 100 seconds left

For the first time in years, The ‘Doomsday Clock‘ show that the end of the world is closer than ever or at least that’s what they’ve determined the scientists of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. They warn each year how many minutes are left until the end of the world until midnight.

This year is the first time that the clock counts in seconds instead of minutes. We still have 100 seconds, but the question that arises is how much these 100 seconds are, Can these scientists really determine when the end of the world will be?

The “Doomsday Clock” is a metaphorical form to express the time that we spent on the planet before we were annihilated as a human being. It was founded in 1947 and since then it has evolved and delayed year after year depending on the situation the planet has been in at all times. It peaked in the early 90’s at 17 minutes for the Apocalypse. The lowest point we have just reached in 2020, less than two minutes with climate change as the main consequence.

What factors move the ‘Doomsday Clock’ pointer?

The clock started as an indicator of the Cold War which sought to express how close we are to the end of civilization because of a thermonuclear war. It was the most important and only factor that moved the minute hand of the watch. However, other factors have also been incorporated over the years (as nuclear risk decreased), such as: the weather emergency what was the most highlighted factor this year.

Artificial intelligence or biotechnology are some of the other threats that for the scientists of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is compared with the risk of nuclear war and climate change. The problem is that the range of threats that the ‘Apocalypse Clock’ takes into account has been expanding.

“Doomsday Clock” in 2020
“Doomsday Clock” in 2020
Can fake news kill the Earth? Apparently so. In 2018, social networks were included as a determining factor in the end of the world. That year’s report says the following:

“The world has seen the threat posed by the misuse of information technology and has witnessed the vulnerability of democracies to misinformation. There is a downside to the abuse of social networks. Leaders react when citizens insist that they do, and citizens around the world can use the power of the Internet to improve the long-term prospects of their children and grandchildren.”

The level of concern is more than a date for the apocalypse

Since the weather emergency has only existed among the clock factors since 2007, it is The risk of nuclear war the most influential factor in the movement of the clock hands. In 1953, it was reduced to two minutes due to growing tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. In contrast, it reached its highest point in 1991 with 17 minutes. The reason? George Bush (father) and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the strategic arms reduction treaty.

Evolution of the remaining minutes of the watch over the years
Evolution of the remaining minutes of the watch over the years

However, by examining some critical points in the Cold War, The ‘Doomsday Clock’ was not set as we would expect, for example the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, is one of the most tense moments to remember. At that time, the clock marked seven minutes before the end of the world.

And the Equinox Incident case? On December 26, 1983, we faced the button that the Soviet Union used to fire its missiles at the United States. A bug in the Soviet system implied that they were under attack. The protocol said they should respond by firing their missiles, but a service officer decided at that point not to press the button. The ‘Doomsday Clock’ was in four minutes.

In addition to these inconsistencies, if atomic risk was the main factor, There are people who even require the clock to stop forever due to the current factors. Physicist Lawrence Krauss, board member of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists from 2009 to 2018, I have asked these days stop the clock because it’s not up to atomic scientists to analyze the current factors:

“THERE IS A DEEPER PROBLEM. NOT ONLY IS THE ‘DOOMSDAY CLOCK’ NOT SCIENTIFIC; THE FACTORS THAT DETERMINE IT ARE DOMINATED BY POLITICAL RATHER THAN SCIENTIFIC ISSUES. THE FIRST MAY BE IMPORTANT, BUT THE AUTHORITY OF NUCLEAR SCIENTISTS TO ASSERT IS ONLY SUITABLE FOR THE LATTER.“

When Lawrence Krauss said the watch was not scientific, it was referring to There is no empirical method to demonstrate these reflected protocols. The clock has marked the end of the world for seven decades and yet the world is not over yet. How much is 6 minutes? and 100 seconds? The organization has always indicated that they are trying to warn of the danger and not predict a date. That said, the dimensions of the clock are quantifiable to us, but there is no point of reference to understand, even roughly, the time it indicates.

More than half of the millennials fear seeing a big war
More than half of the millennials fear seeing a big war

According to Anders Sandberg, a researcher at Oxford University, the ‘Doomsday Clock’ is not a measure of time, probability or distance, but rather a measure of people’s need to act. It reflects more a level of concern that exists (inconsistent in some cases) than a real risk that we can quantify. In any case, there is much more accurate data that alerts us to climate change than a static clock ticking 100 seconds to midnight.

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