The Doomsday Clock, the symbolic indicator of how close the world stands to disaster, moved ever closer to ‘midnight’ on Tuesday. Throughout the past decades the announcement has attempted to focus minds on the twin dangers of nuclear weapons (the original focus of the project) and more recently climate change.
Last year’s announcement, made just days before Russia invaded Ukraine, was set at 100 seconds to midnight, which was the worst position since the first announcement. Since then the global risks have escalated, at the team behind the Doomsday Clock have identified four areas which contribute to the danger facing our world.
- Nuclear weapons – since the start of the war in Ukraine Vladimir Putin has threatened to use nuclear weapons, and other states have threatened use in retaliation if that were to happen. the continued modernisation and expansion of arsenals by nuclear-armed states, including the UK are also cited as risks.
- Climate change – while the consequences of climate change are very present and very real, there is a danger that the geopolitical issues caused by the invasion of Ukraine and the deterioration in relations between major powers will reduce willingness to work together to tackle climate change.
- Biological threats – on the heels of the Covid-19 outbreak there is a recognition from the scientists behind the Doomsday Clock that the world must improve its ability to prevent disease outbreaks as well as identifying and tackling those which do occur more quickly.
- Disruptive technologies – the rise in these technologies, from fake news to drones, is also cited as a potential threat.
The media usually pays attention to these announcements and reports on the dangers being discussed in the Doomsday Clock announcement. Nuclear weapons have been in the public consciousness since the invasion of Ukraine in a way which hasn’t been seen for decades. Yet political leaders around the world continue to press ahead of upgrading and expanding arsenals.
There is hope, however. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons shows that the vast majority of states do not want to possess nuclear weapons, or to have them in our world. More than 90 states have signed the Treaty, almost half the states in the world.
Christian CND continues to pray for a swift and lasting settlement to the conflict in Ukraine, as well as praying for our leaders to have the courage to brig it about. We also pray that once the nuclear threat subsidies there would be a recognition that the world cannot live peacefully while nuclear weapons exist, and that this would drive efforts towards disarmament.