Doomsday Clock is 100 seconds to midnight, but our actions can change that

CBC Kids News • Published 2020-01-24 15:55

Things like climate activism help turn back the clock

What time is it?

According to the Doomsday Clock — a symbolic clock that represents how vulnerable our world is — there are only 100 seconds left until midnight.

What happens at midnight? Well, midnight represents the end of humanity, according to the group of scientists who maintain the clock.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves the clock closer to midnight — or further from it — each year, depending on threats to our world such as climate change, the political climate, dangerous weapons, technology and nuclear missiles.


The clock was updated on Thursday by a group of scientists called The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, who update it every year. (Eva Hambach/Getty Images)

It’s important to know that we are not in immediate danger, and that the clock is symbolic.

This year, the clock was moved from two minutes to midnight to 100 seconds to midnight.

Why? Because of nuclear uncertainty and the increasing threat of climate change, among other things.

Looking back on the history of the clock, the hands have never been this close to midnight before.

That said, the time on the Doomsday Clock has shifted both forwards and backwards over the past 73 years.


This timeline shows how factors like nuclear uncertainty have caused the hands on the clock to go closer to and further from midnight over the years. (Kevin Kirk)

There’s still hope

Former California Governor Jerry Brown, the executive chair of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said it’s still possible to wind back the clock.

"We're on the Titanic ready to hit an iceberg," Brown said, "but we have an incredible opportunity to reverse."

On that note, here are five kids who are taking that opportunity and helping our Earth through their actions.

Emphasis on ‘Mother’ Earth

Pastel depiction of mother earth shows her holding an orchid and crying over a spacey backdrop

Raynne Penconek created this piece, called Protect Mother Earth, to get people to relate to the Earth as a person rather than just something to live on. (Submitted by Raynne Penconek)

In 2018, 17-year-old Penconek from Edmonton travelled to Poland for the COP24 climate conference as part of an international project that used art to bring attention to climate change.

Leading the charge with low-waste

Young girl yells into loud speaker with power, backed by a group of peers

In her point of view piece, Julia Sampson lays out tips for going low-waste. (Submitted by Julia Sampson).

Last month, 17-year-old climate striker and organizer Julia Sampson from Halifax shared how, although it feels like throwing away her childhood traditions, setting a low-waste example is crucial to the climate movement.

Bringing a new meaning to #NOFILTERS

Young girl collects thousands of cigarette butts in large mason jar

Aniela Guzikowski started by collecting 7,000 cigarette butts, but now wants to change the policies that permit them. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Along with other kids in Canada, 12-year-old Aniela Guzikowski is making major moves to cut down on single-use plastics.

See you in court

In October 2019, 15 young Canadians announced at a Vancouver climate protest that they’d be suing the Canadian government. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In what was “not just a publicity stunt,” a group of young Canadians decided to sue the Canadian government last year, claiming that government inaction on climate change was a violation of their rights and freedoms.

Getting Tim Hortons to double-double down on the environment

Eve Helman, left, and Mya Chau, both 12, called on Tim Hortons to make changes for the sake of the environment. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Last year, three Calgary teens garnered more than 100,000 signatures on a petition that asked Tim Hortons to adopt more eco-friendly cups and modernize their roll-up-the-rim contest.

Know other kids who are doing amazing things for our climate? Make sure to email us at to let us know how they’re being awesome.

Still worried? Here are some tips for dealing with eco-anxiety.

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