The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said on Tuesday that Russia's war in Ukraine has dramatically increased the chance of global self-annihilation, bringing the Doomsday Clock to its closest point to midnight ever.
The Doomsday Clock is intended to measure the gravest threats to human existence to persuade world leaders to recommit to addressing extinction-level challenges, such as the threat of nuclear weapon use. However, it has expanded to include the dangers of the climate crisis and biological risks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The clock is now 90 seconds from midnight, 10 seconds closer than when it was last set in January 2022, just before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Tuesday, Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin of Atomic Experts, cited a statement made by a consortium of scientists claiming "that without swift and focused action, truly catastrophic events are more likely,"
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has previously opposed Russia's invasion of Ukraine and deemed Vladimir Putin's remarks regarding the deployment of nuclear weapons "outrageous."
"The possibilities that the conflict could spin out of anyone's control remains high," Bronson cautioned, noting Antonio Guterres' earlier warning that the world has entered a period of nuclear peril not seen since the height of the Cold War.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists made the revelation on the same day that the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Conference on Nuclear Disarmament lambasted Russia for delaying for a second time strategic nuclear armaments reduction discussions between Washington and Moscow.
Russia had stated that it delayed the discussions due to U.S. support for Ukraine.
On Tuesday, in response to a question from a Russian journalist regarding the resumption of nuclear talks between Washington and Moscow as the United States and other Western nations consider sending tanks and long-range weapons to Ukraine, former world leaders and scientists advocated for continuing to arm Ukraine.
Elbegdorj Tsakhia, former president and prime minister of Mongolia, stated of Ukraine, "I think they need more tanks," "They cannot afford to wait. I believe they require additional help. More tanks and armaments."
Steve Fetter, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland and a member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, stated that the United States and Russia should be able to continue nuclear talks despite the war in Ukraine, "just as we did during the darkest days of the Cold War." Still, he cautioned against Russia's success in Ukraine.
"If Russia prevails in Ukraine, other non-nuclear countries may conclude that they can't be defended from an attack against nuclear-armed adversaries, which could undermine the Non-Proliferation regime and fuel a new round of proliferation," he warned.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated other global problems, such as climate change and biological risk. According to a consortium of scientists, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists published its findings in English, Russian, and Ukrainian for the first time to have them read in the capitals most impacted.
Suzet McKinney, Principal and Director of Life Sciences at Sterling Bay and a member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, issued a warning about natural and artificial biological hazards.
She cautioned that Russia, North Korea, and Iran all continue to have biological weapons programs and that the likelihood that Russia will deploy deadly weapons in Ukraine "continues to escalate as conditions there become more and more chaotic."
Three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, McKinney stated that the international community must enhance its capacity to avoid disease outbreaks and detect them rapidly when they arise, both through animal-to-human transmission and laboratory accidents.
She stated, "Events like COVID-19 can no longer be considered rare, once in century occurrences,"
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has contributed to two opposing climate change trends, according to Sivan Kartha, a senior scientist at the Stockholm Environmental Institute.
The push to decouple Russia's oil and gas exports has stimulated investment in renewables, according to Kartha. However, high natural gas prices have "driven a frenzied push to develop new natural gas supplies" and a short-term reliance on coal in power plants, "leading this past year to be a record high for global coal consumption."
In his concluding remarks, Bronson stated that the clock approaching midnight signals the public to place more pressure on leaders to confront these grave hazards.
"We're in a situation now where leaders aren't doing what they need to, and we need the public, desperately, to make sure they focus on key issues," she said.
"Those listening and saying "today does not feel safer" are not alone. We are quite worried about this. Nobody can achieve this alone, but everyone can contribute in some way. As a result, we believe that the passing of time as we assess where the threats are will serve as a reminder that we must all pay close attention to these crucial matters."