The Doomsday clock is being updated Tuesday morning in the latest iteration of a decades-old international symbol meant to illustrate how close humanity is to reaching "global catastrophe" as of January 2024.
This year's figurative clock is being unveiled during an announcement by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a nonprofit organization that tracks man-made threats to the world as we know it, focusing on three primary hazard areas: nuclear risk, climate change and disruptive technologies. Bill Nye, the science educator and television personality, also joined the latest announcement.
In 2023, the hands of the Doomsday clock inched forward for the first time in three years to show climate crisis, among other human-caused threats.— up from , where they had remained since 2020. The foreboding leap by 10 seconds was motivated by the ongoing war in Ukraine, which at the time was nearing the one-year mark since Russia's invasion, as well as the continued
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists originally created the Doomsday clock in 1947, as a tool to represent the ways in which humanity's actions and decisions put its own health and future at stake. Back then, they deemed the rise of nuclear weapons technology to be the world's greatest threat, and the early versions of the clock portended potentially catastrophic consequences of a nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Climate change has been a leading concern dictating the hands of the Doomsday clock since 2007.
"The Doomsday Clock is a design that warns the public about how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making. It is a metaphor, a reminder of the perils we must address if we are to survive on the planet," reads a description shared to the website for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
The clock is set to a particular time each year that is decided by members of the Bulletin's Science and Security Board, which meets twice annually "to discuss world events and reset the clock as necessary." The board consists of scientists and other experts in the field of nuclear technology and climate science, who "consult widely with their colleagues across a range of disciplines" as well as members of the organization's sponsoring board, which includes 10 Nobel laureates, according to the Bulletin.