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Doomsday clock at 100 seconds to midnight; world 'stuck in an extremely dangerous moment'

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 1/23/2022 Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
The Doomsday Clock in 2022 shows the hands remain set at 100 seconds to midnight. © USA TODAY The Doomsday Clock in 2022 shows the hands remain set at 100 seconds to midnight.

It's still only 100 seconds to midnight.

Ongoing nuclear risks, the threat of climate change, disruptive technologies and the seemingly endless coronavirus pandemic have brought us as close to doomsday as we've ever been, according to the annual Doomsday Clock announcement Thursday in Washington, D.C.

The countdown point is the same as last year's. The clock remains closer to destruction than at any point since it was created in 1947. 

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The 2022 Doomsday Clock statement explains that the “decision does not, by any means, suggest that the international security situation has stabilized. On the contrary, the clock remains the closest it has ever been to civilization-ending apocalypse because the world remains stuck in an extremely dangerous moment.”

Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said the clock "continues to hover dangerously, reminding us about how much work is needed to be done to ensure a safer and healthier planet. We must continue to push the hands of the clock away from midnight."

Each year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a nonprofit group that sets the clock, decides whether the events of the previous year pushed humanity closer to or further from destruction. The clock “conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making," according to the group.


Video: Doomsday Clock remains at 100 seconds to midnight, unchanged from 2021 (NBC News)

Doomsday Clock remains at 100 seconds to midnight, unchanged from 2021
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The closer to midnight we are, the more danger we're in, according to the bulletin. The clock uses the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and a nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the Earth.

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The furthest the clock has been from midnight was 17 minutes in 1991, at the end of the Cold War.

The clock has been maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1947. The group was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first nuclear weapons in the Manhattan Project.

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And even though the Cold War ended three decades ago, nuclear risks remain a grave threat to humanity. "Signs of new arms races are clear," the Bulletin's Scott Sagan said Thursday. 

“The clock is not set by signs of good intentions, but by evidence of action or in this case inaction."

Climate change, caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, is also among the major threats cited by the Doomsday clock authors.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Doomsday clock at 100 seconds to midnight; world 'stuck in an extremely dangerous moment'

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