We’re still at 100 seconds to midnight – as close to ‘civilisation-ending apocalypse’ as we’ve ever been. That’s the view of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists which, on 20 January, set its Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds to midnight for the third year running.
The board concluded that a positive change in US leadership was not enough ‘to reverse negative international security trends that had been long in developing and continued across the threat horizon in 2021.’
In terms of the threat of nuclear war, US relations with Russia and China remain tense, and all three countries are ‘engaged in an array of nuclear modernisation and expansion efforts’ which ‘could mark the start of a dangerous new nuclear arms race.’
The establishment of biological weapons programmes ‘marked the beginning of a new biological arms race’.
On climate change, for most countries ‘a huge gap still exists between long-term greenhouse gas-reduction pledges and the near- and medium-term emission-reduction actions needed to achieve those goals.’
The worldwide response to COVID-19 ‘remained entirely insufficient’ in 2021, with poorer countries largely unvaccinated.
Corruption of the world’s information ecosystem ‘continued apace’ in 2021. All these factors kept the world ‘within a stone’s throw of apocalypse’.
One of the board’s recommendations: ‘The United States should persuade allies and rivals that no-first-use of nuclear weapons is a step toward security and stability and then declare such a policy in concert with Russia (and China).’