100 seconds to midnight
The "Doomsday Clock," representing the judgment of leading science and security experts about perils to human existence, remains at 100 seconds to midnight this year, with advances like Covid-19 vaccines balanced by rising misinformation and other threats.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists president Rachel Bronson declared Thursday the world was no safer this year than two years ago, when the clock's hands were moved to their current position.
"If humanity is to avoid an existential catastrophe, one that would dwarf anything it has yet seen, national leaders must do a far better job of countering disinformation, heeding science and cooperating," she told reporters on the 75th anniversary of the clock's initial unveiling.
The fact that it hasn't shifted closer to midnight does not imply threats have stabilized, the group said in a full statement. "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."
The Bulletin was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein, J Robert Oppenheimer and other scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project which produced the first nuclear weapons.
The idea of the clock symbolizing global vulnerability to catastrophe. Its time is set by the organization's board, with the support of its board of sponsors, which includes 11 Nobel laureates.
In its statement, the Bulletin noted hopeful developments at the start of 2021, including the renewal of the New START arms control agreement between the United States and Russia.
But international tensions continue to loom ominously, including most recently over Ukraine. The United States, Russia and China meanwhile continue their march to develop hypersonic weapons.
No country meanwhile remains immune to threats to democracy, the Bulletin said. On climate, COP26 in Glasgow offered positive rhetoric but relatively little action.