The Doomsday Clock: How close are we to the end


Lucas Jablonski, Staff Writer

Environmental collapse, nuclear destruction, the end of the world.  There is one symbol that gauges all of these factors and shows us how close our Earth is to total destruction: The Doomsday Clock.

Created in 1947 by The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (A World War 2-era think tank) and scientists from The University of Chicago, the clock was used to determine nuclear threats and give the citizens of the United States a clear picture of how close these threats were to endangering their lives.  Now, the clock is set every year by the Bulletin (including 11 Nobel Prize recipients)  and takes into account nuclear advancements, environmental issues, and social changes.

The Doomsday Clock “is a symbol that represents how close we are to destroying the world with dangerous technologies of our own making. It warns how many metaphorical ‘minutes to midnight’ humanity has left”(University of Chicago).  Though it is symbolic, much planning and thought is put into the decision each year. 

In past years, the time has fluctuated:

1953 (2 minutes to midnight)- The Soviet Union and The United States of Americas’ discovery of thermonuclear warfare and the test performed that year.  The time went to 7 minutes by 1960. 

1984 (3 minutes to midnight)- As written in an editorial by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, “The accelerating nuclear arms race and the almost complete breakdown of communication between the superpowers have combined- to create a situation of extreme and immediate danger.”

2015 (3 minutes to midnight)- In this statement by the Bulletin, it was fervently announced that “In 2015, unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernization, and out sized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act.

But in the last 6 years, rapid climate change and civil unrest has prompted the Bulletin to decrease the time to midnight every year.  On January 20, 2022, the time was announced as 100 seconds to midnight as it has been since 2020.  The reason being that “the change in US leadership alone was not enough to reverse negative international security trends that had been long in developing and continued across the threat horizon in 2021”  

We are “On Doom’s Doorstep” (The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists), but will we stay there? Unless there is advocacy for our planet and drastic changes in the way we live, the clock may never move back.  We, as the citizens of Earth must do everything in our power to advocate for our planet and make certain that there is still a planet to live on for future generations.

Find out more at:  The Doomsday Clock