Doomsday Clock hits 90 seconds to midnight, its most dire prediction ever

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists updated the Doomsday Clock — which symbolizes the likelihood of worldwide catastrophe — on Jan. 24. (Video: Reuters, Photo: Getty Images/Reuters)

The world is 90 seconds away from “midnight,” according to the Doomsday Clock, the closest it has ever been to the symbolic hour of apocalypse.

The people who run the clock say that’s largely a reflection of Russia’s war in Ukraine — including of the potential use of nuclear weapons and because the conflict is encouraging continued dependence on fossil fuels in Europe. For the first time, the announcement of the clock’s movement toward catastrophe was released in Russian and Ukrainian as well as English, something Rachel Bronson, CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said the organization hopes brings the dire forecast “the attention it deserves.”

The time had been set at 100 seconds away from midnight since 2020. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says it has been using the clock for more than seven decades to convey the level of risk from threats, from nuclear weapons to climate change.

This year’s is the first update to the clock since the war in Ukraine revived fears of a nuclear disaster in a year of fires and floods around the world. Here’s what to know about the metaphorical timepiece: