The fact that it has not moved closer to midnight does not mean that the threats have stabilized, the group said in a full statement.
“On the contrary, the clock is still the closest it has ever been to the end of civilization apocalypse because the world remains stuck in an extremely dangerous moment.”
The bulletin was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein, J Robert Oppenheimer and other scientists working on the Manhattan Project, which produced the first nuclear weapons.
The idea that the clock symbolizes global vulnerability to disasters followed in 1947.
The time is set by the organization’s board with the support of its sponsorship council, which includes 11 Nobel laureates.
The bulletin noted in its statement a hopeful development in early 2021, including the renewal of the new START arms control agreement between the United States and Russia.
But international tensions remain ominous, including most recently over Ukraine. The United States, Russia and China, meanwhile, are continuing their march to develop hypersonic weapons.
Nice words, but a little climate action
No country, meanwhile, remains immune to threats to democracy, the Bulletin said, “as demonstrated by the January 6, 2021 uprising at the US Capitol.”
More than 10 percent of the riots-related crimes were active or retired members, underscoring military extremism.
In the field of climate, COP26 in Glasgow offered positive rhetoric, but relatively little action.
“The past year has seen a staggering onslaught of climate disasters,” said Raymond Pierrehumber, a professor of physics at the University of Oxford.
“We’ve had the heat dome over North America, worldwide fires, droughts, floods, but this is just a snippet of what will happen if we do not get carbon dioxide emissions to zero.”
And while COVID-19 has focused the world’s scientific attention, governments need to be prepared for other biological threats – from weapons programs to the rise in antibiotic resistance, which Bulletin said could trigger a new pandemic within a decade.
The bulletin highlighted in particular how disinformation – much of it taken from politicians in high positions – undermines faith in science and hampers the world’s ability to face its challenge.
“A particularly dire threat is the deliberate undermining of the public’s ability to sort out what is true from what is blatantly false in information warfare,” said Sharon Squassoni, co-chair of the board and research professor at George Washington University.
“This undermines our ability to reach consensus on the solutions needed to achieve positive change,” she added.
The bulletin called on Washington and Moscow to expand the scope of nuclear reduction and to the world’s leading polluters to speed up decarbonisation.
“China should set an example by pursuing sustainable development paths – not fossil fuel-intensive projects – in the Belt and Road Initiative,” it said.
In the meantime, the United States and other leading countries should increase cooperation through the World Health Organization to reduce biological risks.
This would involve improving the monitoring of animal-human interactions, increased international disease surveillance, and increased production and distribution of medical supplies.