From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Doomsday Clock
Mains level : Various existential threat to mankind
The hands of the ‘Doomsday Clock’, a visual depiction of how vulnerable the world is to a climate or nuclear catastrophe, remained at ‘100 seconds to midnight’ for the second consecutive year — the closest it has been to the symbolic annihilation of humanity.
Q.The ‘Doomsday Clock’ represents the hypothetical countdown to raise human consciousness against mutually assured destruction. In this light, discuss various existential threats to humanity and action taken so far.
What is the ‘Doomsday Clock’?
- The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, founded by Albert Einstein and students from the University of Chicago in 1945, created the ‘Doomsday Clock’.
- It is held as a symbol to represent how close the world is to a possible apocalypse.
- It is set annually by a panel of scientists, including 13 Nobel laureates, based on the threats — old and new — that the world faced in that year.
- When it was first created in 1947, the hands of the clock were placed based on the threat posed by nuclear weapons, which the scientists then perceived to be the greatest threat to humanity.
- Over the years, they have included other existential threats, such as climate change and disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence.
Significance of such clock
- The reason the scientists selected a clock is twofold — they wanted to use the imagery of an apocalypse (midnight) as well as the “contemporary idiom of a nuclear explosion” (zero countdowns) to illustrate the threats to humanity.
- The clock was originally set to seven minutes to midnight and has since moved closer or further away from the dreaded 12 o’clock position.
- The furthest it has been being 17 minutes after the end of the Cold War in 1991.
Why was the clock set at ‘100 seconds from midnight’?
- It was set at the ‘100 seconds from midnight’ position due to the prevailing climate conditions, “cyber-based disinformation”, nuclear risk and the pandemic.
- It is the closest to Doomsday we have ever been in the history of the Clock.
- We now face a true emergency – an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin for error or further delay.