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Experts say we have 90 seconds left till midnight on the doomsday clock, but what does that mean? 

In a recent statement made by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, scientists warn humankind is left with 90 seconds left until the doomsday clock strikes midnight. 

This metaphor is supposed to represent how close the world is to a man-made global catastrophe. 

The clock was designed in 1947, two years after the creation of the atomic bomb. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists meets every year and analyzes how current events influence the potential for global catastrophe. 

The original board was formed by participants in the Manhattan Project who helped create the atomic bomb but protested its use on humans. 

In recent years, board members are made up of expert scientists who study nuclear technology and the earth’s climate. They also consult with the Board of Sponsors, including nine Nobel Laureates. 

In the opinion of the scientists, they set an amount of time humanity has left to address life-threatening concerns before the clock “strikes midnight,” meaning the point of irreversible man-made damage. The Board predicts only the time remaining on the clock, and it is possible for the clock to move back. 

The amount of time left on the clock has fluctuated greatly since its creation — the longest time being 17 minutes in 1991 after the end of the Cold War. 

However, the clock has seen a record low in 2023 and 2024 with 90 seconds left remaining till midnight.  

Scientists attribute the minutes decrease to current war, climate change and cyber threats. 

The most pressing concern mentioned in the statement was the Ukraine-Russia disputes. The consistent escalation of the conflict raised concerns among the scientists, as they saw potential for using nuclear weaponry. 

The board shared a unanimous statement: “A durable end to Russia’s war in Ukraine seems distant, and the use of nuclear weapons by Russia in that conflict remains a serious possibility.”

Record levels of heat experienced by parts of the world during 2023 also contributed to the concerns. Global greenhouse emissions have increased to 57.5 gigatons a year beginning in 2022, 1.5 percent higher than in 2021. This means that 57.5 billion tons of carbon emissions are trapping the sun’s heat, which leads to global warming and climate change. 

In the statement, scientists warn: “The world entered ‘uncharted territory’ for climate impacts last year, with conditions exceeding past extremes by enormous margins.” 

The Board advises to watch over the development of artificial intelligence and other technologies. They warn that the rapid development of these technologies can eventually “threaten democracy and our capacity to address difficult challenges.” The board predicts AI  can lead to chaos and dysfunction in humans’ information ecosystem. 

Despite concerns, however,  scientists are hopeful the clock will turn back. 

The Board emphasized the importance of establishing unity between nations to prioritize addressing worldwide concerns. They named the United States, China and Russia as the world’s leading powers, and said these countries are the most influential in affecting and possibly correcting global threats. 

But for people who do not hold political power, the board assures that an impact can still be made. 

They encourage people to learn about nuclear technology and share what they’ve learned with the people around them. Expressing concerns can motivate others to take action. 

They also encourage writing to government representatives and attending town hall meetings to address personal concerns. 

There are 90 seconds left till midnight according to the Doomsday Clock, scientists say there is still time to fix it.

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