Brown sand pours through an hourglass with a light wooden outer frame in front of a white-painted brick wall

Photo: Kenny Eliason / Unsplash

It is now 90 seconds to midnight – that is, we’re figuratively moments away from humanity’s annihilation, according to an international board of scientists and nuclear experts.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists revealed the new time of its Doomsday Clock on 24 January, showing that Earth is closer to extinction than ever. The time moved ahead 10 seconds after about three years of sitting at 100 seconds.

SEI Senior Scientist Sivan Kartha sits on the science and security board that makes the determination each year of the clock’s “time” – whether to move it forward, backward or keep it the same. He also heads the climate sub-committee, initiating the climate discussion among its experts.

Kartha and his team’s analysis of the escalating climate crisis contributed to the clock’s new position.

Reuters was one of the many outlets covering the clock’s new position.

“Global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, after having rebounded from the COVID economic decline to an all-time-high in 2021, continue to rise in 2022 and hit another record high,” Reuters quoted him saying. “… With emissions still rising, weather extremes continue, and were even more clearly attributable to climate change.”

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the breakdown of institutions that ran parallel – or resulted – also fuelled the clock’s advancement.

“Dealing with the crisis of climate change requires faith in institutions of multilateral governance and cooperation,” said Kartha, quoted in the bulletin’s press release . “The geopolitical fissure opened by the invasion of Ukraine has weakened trust among countries and the global will to cooperate.”

“Dealing with the crisis of climate change requires faith in institutions of multilateral governance and cooperation.”

— Sivan Kartha

But young climate activists can pull us from the brink, he added, according to the Associated Press .

“There’s a generation growing up now, a generation that will be our leaders in the future, that is fired up about climate change,” Kartha said. “They’re concerned about it as a personal issue.”

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 to convey how close humanity is to destroying itself. It has become an international symbol of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change and disruptive technologies.