Clock’s ticking: Humanity ‘2 minutes’ closer to its doomsday

Three minutes to midnight – with midnight being the figurative end of humanity – are left before apocalypse descends upon the planet, scientists announced on Thursday, as the minute hand of the iconic ‘Doomsday Clock’ was adjusted two minutes forward.

World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe,” Kennette Benedict, the executive director of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the organization behind the Doomsday Clock, announced on Thursday.

Citing climate change and nuclear tensions, the latest decision to move the minute hand closer to midnight – thus pronouncing the world closer to its doom – was traditionally made by the Bulletin's board of directors and the sponsors, including a number of Nobel laureates.

Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity,” said Benedict, while breaking the news at an international conference in Washington.

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Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped to develop the first atomic weapons, the Bulletin created the Clock two years later, making midnight and countdown to zero the imagery of apocalypse and nuclear explosion. It was then seven minutes to midnight.

This time, the decision to push the Clock forwards was made with the reference to “accelerating climate change coupled with inadequate international action to greenhouse gas emission,” as well as nuclear programs in US, Russia and other countries, and “the stalled reduction of nuclear warheads in Russian and US arsenals.”

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According to the Doomsday Clock, the closest the humanity has ever been to its end was in 1953 with its first test of the hydrogen bomb, when the minute hand pointed at two minutes to midnight. The most optimistic year for the planet was in 1991: as a result of the end of the Cold War, the world was 17 minutes away from apocalypse. Since then, the clock has been ticking towards the end. The previous time the minute hand was pushed one minute ahead was in 2012, from 11:54 pm to 11:55 pm.