Countdown to the Man-Made Apocalypse
Created in 1947, the doomsday clock graphically reflects how close humanity might be to human-induced apocalypse, in terms of the “number of minutes to midnight”—at which time, presumably, time itself will no longer matter. Currently, the clock is set at five minutes to midnight.
Nuclear weapons continue to be the most urgent global threat to humanity, but the world has changed since the creation of the Doomsday Clock, in no small part to technological and scientific advance, making it even more dangerous. Unfortunately, there is no great evidence that our way of thinking about global catastrophes has evolved for the 21st century. That’s why the bulletin decided, in 2007, to factor other threats to humanity into the Doomsday Clock and now assess ongoing global threats to humanity in three areas: nuclear proliferation and nuclear weapons, climate change, and biotechnology and bioterrorism. The last issue has raised a lot of heat in the media in recent years, and the specter of new lethal viruses that might wipe out populations suggested to us that there might be compelling new reasons to move the clock forward again.