"We now face a true emergency - an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin for error or further delay".
"We have seen influential leaders denigrate and discard the most effective methods for addressing complex threats - worldwide agreements with strong verification regimes - in favor of their own narrow interests and domestic political gain", Bronson said. The last move forward was 2018 when the world reached two minutes to midnight amid threats of climate change, nuclear fallout, and cyberwar. "[We are] explicitly warning leaders and citizens around the world that the global security situation is now more risky than it has ever been, even at the height of the Cold War". North Korea has threatened to abandon negotiations with the United States altogether, saying the previous year and a half of talks was 'lost time'.
The greatest threats to humanity, as outlined by the Bulletin, are "nuclear war and climate change", which are "compounded by a threat multiplier - cyber-enabled information warfare - that undercuts society's ability to respond".
The countdown was established in 1947 by experts from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists who were working on the Manhattan Project to design and build the first atomic bomb. The United Nations put out a report just last month noting carbon emissions need to fall almost 80 per cent this decade to avert the worst impacts of climate change yet this week atmospheric levels reached a new height. According to the Bulletin, the world's most safe and secure period came in post-Cold War 1991, when the clock was 17 minutes from midnight. In 2007 the group added climate change as a factor in the clock's setting. The clock (which, by the way, does not exist physically-you can't go visit it, which would probably be the most existentially distressing long weekend one could plan) is meant to remind us that global catastrophe has been just around the proverbial corner from the moment our species entered its nuclear age.
"Without conscious efforts to reinvigorate arms control, the world is headed into an unregulated nuclear environment", Sharon Squassoni, member of the Bulletin's Science & Security Board, announced on January 23.
"The global security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the worldwide political infrastructure for managing them to erode", it said.
The clock was farthest from midnight in 1991, when it was moved back to 17 minutes after the US and Soviet Union signed the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
Referencing "the new abnormal" introduced previous year, the 2020 statement warned, "This risky situation remains-and continues to deteriorate". If this doesn't show us climate change is here, then I don't know what will.
The announcement will be made by Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, as well as former California governor and the current executive chair at the Bulletin, Jerry Brown. "If there's ever a time to wake up, it's now".