Dear UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, A Slight Correction – OpEd


While the Doomsday Clock is perilously close to midnight, it is not as close as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested in his COP26 opening remarks.

“Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change,” Johnson said. “It’s one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock and we need to act now.”

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is in complete agreement with the sentiment that “we need to act now,” but we want to clarify that the Doomsday Clock, which we created in 1947, is currently set at 100 seconds to midnight.

The Clock, a powerful symbol for how close humanity is to self-annihilation, is set by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board once a year. The board members weigh dangers posed by climate change, nuclear risk and disruptive technologies in determining the time. We will announce the time in January 2022 and commemorate the Clock’s 75th anniversary with an upcoming book from Hat & Beard Press.

As one of the most recognizable symbols in the past 100 years, the Doomsday Clock sits at the crossroads of science and art. It has permeated not only the media landscape, but culture itself. The anniversary book chronicles the Doomsday Clock’s references in novels by writers such as Stephen King and Piers Anthony, comic books (Watchmen, StormWatch), movies (Justice League), music (The Who, The Clash, Smashing Pumpkins) and numerous art exhibitions.

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