The Doomsday Clock has been updated – and it’s both good and bad news, depending on how you look at it. The clock has been kept at 3 minutes to midnight, meaning we are apparently not in more or less danger than before, but still dangerously close to peril.
The clock, a symbolism of how close we are to our own destruction, is run by members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, based in Chicago. Yesterday, at an event in Washington, D.C., they announced their decision to keep the minute hand of the clock where it is.
They highlighted the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate deal as reasons to be cheerful, but they were “only small bright spots” among more serious issues.
“The world situation remains highly threatening to humanity, and decisive action to reduce the danger posed by nuclear weapons and climate change is urgently required,” The Bulletin said in a statement.
Climate change, despite the Paris deal, was said to be a continuing major concern for humanity. Indeed, 2015 was the hottest year on record, and we have now passed the 1°C threshold, taking us ever closer to the dangerous 2°C limit.
North Korea’s supposed hydrogen bomb test was also cited as a reason for caution, while technological threats including the rise of artificial intelligence – something Stephen Hawking has warned about recently – were also singled out.
“The Clock ticks. Global danger looms. Wise leaders should act – immediately,” the statement ended rather somberly.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, founded in 1945 by scientists who played a part in creating the first atomic weapons, has updated the clock every year since 1947. The closest it has come to midnight was in 1953, 2 minutes away, following hydrogen bomb tests by the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The “end” of the Cold War in 1991, meanwhile, saw it drop to 17 minutes to midnight.
But 3 minutes to midnight is the closest the clock has been to the end of times in 20 years. Here's hoping for an upturn in our fortunes in the near future.