Lawrence Krauss (left), director of the Arizona State University Origins Project, and Robert Rosner (right), professor at the University of Chicago announce that they have adjusted the so-called "Doomsday Clock" to two minutes to midnight at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on January 25, 2018.
Last year, scientists blamed Donald Trump for their decision to sound the alarm about an imminent apocalypse as they set the clock at two and a half minutes to midnight.
Rachel Bronson, president and chief executive of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said "nuclear issues took centre stage once again" during this year's deliberations. If and when the clock ever strikes midnight, doomsday is upon us.
The last time the clock showed humanity this close to total and utter annihilation was 1953, shortly after the USA made a decision to pursue the hydrogen bomb, a weapon far more powerful than any atomic bomb, according to the Bulletin'stimeline. 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. The furthest the clock has been from midnight is 17 minutes in 1991.
Updates were more frequent during the 1960s, when the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union inflamed global tensions and stoked fears of nuclear attacks.
At the time, this was the closest the clock had come to midnight in over 60 years.
In that year, the U.S. took the decision to upgrade its nuclear arsenal with the hydrogen bomb - a weapon deemed to be far more powerful than an atomic bomb.
"The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and new technologies emerging in other domains".
President Trump's campaign rhetoric about nuclear weapons helped move the minute hand previous year, scientists said.
"The greatest risks previous year arose in the nuclear realm".
"Leaders react when citizens insist they do so, and citizens around the world can use the power of the internet to improve the long-term prospects of their children and grandchildren".
Originally meant to warn of the threat of nuclear Armageddon, the Doomsday Clock also takes into account the likelihood of other emerging threats such as climate change and advances in biotechnology and artificial intelligence. The ongoing changes to the Doomsday Clock not only serve as a warning about a dire situation but are also a call to action to shape a safer and more sustainable path for us all, Kennette Benedict, a senior adviser to the BAS, said in a statement.
But as the group points out in their statement, it is possible to effect change for the good of the planet and humanity.
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