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The Doomsday Clock is now two minutes from midnight after researchers from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists unveiled just how close humanity has come to ending the world.
The ominous Doomsday Clock is a symbolic countdown to midnight – the final hour when humanity risks perishing at its own hand.
The clock came dangerously close to this scenario in 2017 when its handles struck two-and-a-half minutes to midnight.
The risk of dying in nuclear hellfire has not been so dire since 1953 when the United States and Soviet Union were developing the hydrogen bomb.
Ahead of the reveal, some campaigners said that the current world climate warrants pushing the clock’s hands forward once more in a grave warning to humanity.
Bruce Blair, co-founder of anti-nuke campaign Global Zero, argued that The Bulletin’s scientists could make Armageddon closer by a whole minute.
He told Daily Star Online: “2017 was a bad year for the clock and portends a worse year with the distinct possibility of a catastrophe of global proportions.
“The gravest risk of all is the North Korea-US flashpoint, which worsened considerably over Kim’s long-range missile test successes and Trump’s response with ‘bloody nose’ planning.
“We are on a collision course that could crash in early to mid-2018 and escalate quickly from conventional to nuclear conflict, and possibly draw China into the conflict.
“Overall the situation warrants moving the minute hand forward one minute toward midnight, possibly 1.5 minutes forward. That would put it at one or less minutes from midnight.”
Last year’s decision to push the clock forward was prompted by the rising threat of climate change, cyber terrorism and growing discord in global diplomacy.
US President Donald Trump’s outspoken personality and brash language were cited as one of the main reasons why The Bulletin was concerned for the safety of the world.
The scientists said: “In 1947 there was one technology with the potential to destroy the planet, and that was nuclear power.
“Today, rising temperatures, resulting from the industrial-scale burning of fossil fuels, will change life on Earth as we know it, potentially destroying or displacing it from significant portions of the world, unless action is taken today, and in the immediate future.
“Future technological innovation in biology, artificial intelligence, and the cyber realm may pose similar global challenges.”
The Bulletin takes into account factors such as climate change, bio-weaponry, cyber threats and nuclear proliferation when assessing the current danger level.
Kennette Benedict, a senior adviser to The Bulletin, said that the clock is a public warning about how close we are to causing the world’s demise ourselves.
The actual physical clock was designed by artists Martyl Langsdorf for the June 1947 edition of The Bulletin. Her husband, Alexander Langsdorf, was one of the scientists working on the Manhattan Project.
Ms Benedict said: “The Doomsday Clock is not a forecasting tool, and we are not predicting the future. Rather, we study events that have already occurred and existing trends.
“Our Science and Security Board tracks numbers and statistics – looking, for example, at the number and kinds of nuclear weapons in the world, the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the degree of acidity in our oceans, and the rate of sea level rise.
“The board also takes account of leaders’ and citizens’ efforts to reduce dangers, and efforts by institutions – whether of governments, markets, or civil society organisations – to follow through on negotiated agreements.”