Apart from nuclearization, climate change, and disease, fake news and propaganda also factors into humanity’s annihilation, say the timekeepers of the Doomsday Clock.
It may be a hypothetical countdown but the Doomsday Clock is operated by some of the brightest minds in the world. About the latest revision, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the organization that takes care of this specific calculation, now claims that mankind has ventured into the ‘two-minute warning’ zone. Here, every second is precious in averting global annihilation.
It was 2 minutes to midnight in 2019, and now its 20 seconds closer, at 100 seconds to midnight in 2020.
The spiralling down of world order has picked up pace in spectacular fashion in 2019. We’ve seen a never-before quantum of climatic disruption across the globe. UN Panel on Climate Change calls 2019 “unprecedented”. Similarly, nuclear threat re-emerged with rebels like Iran and North Korea calling out the hypocrisy of nuke-armed nations like the US. Pandemics are also an ever-constant threat with strains like the Ebola virus and the new Coronavirus endangering thousands around the world.
But more startling is the fact that while there is a need of emergency measures across the globe, the issues resonating instead are that of nationalism, regionalism and far-right insecurities. Instead of an inclusive approach towards a sustainable future, politicians today are making economic-inspired policy decisions. They gather support through polarization, aided by a rising number of cyber troops relentlessly spreading fake news.
Fake News Propaganda Threat To Humanity Measured On Doomsday Clock
When humanity created the Doomsday Clock in 1947, it wasn’t propaganda, fake news or climate change. Nuclear weapons forced scientists to come up with this correlation. Now, while the nuclear threat still remains, the new man-made menaces are climate change and the dark side of technology.
“Danger is high, and the margin for error is low.” – Bulletin of Atomic Scientists President and CEO Rachel Bronson
2019, the second hottest year ever ended the warmest decade since we started recordkeeping in 1880. July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. It even melted 217 billion tons of polar ice. Oceans are rapidly warming; glaciers are retreating and deserts are expanding. Bushfires caused unprecedented deforestation and also loss of flora and fauna in Brazil and Australia.
Add to that how governments today are leveraging technology evolution to further their narrative. Artificial Intelligence is increasingly finding its way into weapons and resulting in easier kill decision-making. Furthermore, space race has now the attention of the superpowers where politicians have a newfound tool to align with their polarization propaganda.
Likewise, there is an overflow of fake news in the information era aided by doctored videos using deep-fake technology. Media manipulation has hit the credibility of information, resulting in a “dangerous global instability.”
How Fake News Distracts From Real Problems?
In 2019, nuclear and climate conditions continued to deteriorate. Decisions by global leaders not only failed to reduce the damage — they made dangerous situations worse. In the last two years, some of the world’s biggest leaders have vilified climate change. They have manipulated masses into rejecting effective methods to deal with the threats at hand.
Nuclear treaties are collapsing in the face of trade warfare. Nationalist governments keep promoting war hysteria for political gains. The nuclear threat lingers on from the Cold War rivals US and Russia. It has now engulfed the Middle-East, the Indian subcontinent, China and Asia-Pacific and Japan regions. Recent tensions between Iran and the US further fuel the nightmare.
However, global leaders appear biased in their approach, condemning nuclear proliferation and ignoring it as per their convenience, and on the basis of nationalistic gains. They turn a blind eye towards discrimination and persecution by allies giving rise to volatile power blocs. Fake news helps them in sealing the narrative inside the country and appropriating voter sentiment. World leaders have even rejected climate change as a false theory. That unfortunately sealed the fate of the historic Paris Accord.
Political Propaganda Disguised As News Is At An All-Time High
Climate Change activism is somehow surviving the political inaction and disinformation campaigns. Meanwhile, fake news and media manipulation is threatening democracies and disillusioning people globally.
Activism constantly keeps on challenging the manipulation of political information. But nationalistic sentiment and polarization based on ethnic discrimination keeps the citizen angst against political inability reluctant from reaching boiling point.
Government actors ran the disinformation programs directly in 44 countries, with digital militaries even for military promotion.
Disinformation and troll armies aim to delegitimise protests and silence dissent in the far-right world of the 21st century. In fact, as per a comprehensive three-year research on disinformation campaigns by the Computational Propaganda Project at Oxford, over seventy nations in the world had rampant political propaganda campaigns running in 2019 that heavily rely on fake news.
Consequences – Today And Tomorrow
Fake news has devastating consequences. It has fueled mob lynching in India, extra-judicial killings in Arab and Myanmar and also the rise of White-supremacist movement in the US and Europe. Consequently, organized public opinion manipulation campaigns on social media witnessed a 150 per cent rise in 2019.
Maligning political opposition is just one of the aims of such fake news campaigns. However, the more dangerous aim is to suppress human rights and justify undemocratic actions to right-leaning majorities. Fake news is now an entire industry across the globe. It is valued at USD 1.4 million in social contracts related to political parties.
So, media manipulation is successfully working for the political leaders of the day. However, it’s making humanity turn a blind eye to the apocalyptic threat posed by climate change and the steady breakdown of the democratic world order. The Doomsday Clock puts midnight as the mark when humanity destroys itself. But in reality, it won’t be an abrupt annihilation.
Instead, the catastrophe will be a painfully prolonged one where millions keep on vanishing from the face of Earth. Meanwhile, the leadership will keep billions unconcerned and oblivious to the ongoing major mass extinction with fake news and propaganda, as the Doomsday Clock ticks on.