The end of the world is as close as it’s ever been. That’s according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which has advanced its Doomsday Clock to two minutes until midnight.
The only other time the clock — a symbolic measure of humanity’s risk of self-destruction — came so close to the apocalypse was at the height of the Cold War, in 1953. Back then, the Bulletin adjusted the clock after the Soviet Union and the United States tested their nuclear weapons within nine months of each other. This year’s decision to push the clock’s hands closer to midnight stems from growing nuclear threats and unchecked climate dangers, said Rachel Bronson, president and chief executive of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, at a press conference in Washington DC on 25 January.
Warning that the danger of nuclear war has become more “dire” than at any time since the Cold War, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists just moved the hands of its iconic Doomsday Clock to two minutes before midnight. This is the closest the hands have been to an apocalyptic assault on human survival and civilization in the clock’s 71-year history.
Since 1947, the clock has sought to awaken humanity to the imminent danger of catastrophic nuclear war. The additional existential dangers of climate change, new developments in the life sciences and technology were more recently added to their calculus.