The Nuclear Doomsday Clock says it's two and a half minutes to midnight.
No, not literally, so don't think that your phone or computer's clock is acting up. But scientists are concerned, and you should be, too. For the first time since 1953, the Nuclear Doomsday Clock has reached less than 3 minutes to midnight.
The Nuclear Doomsday Clock is an international concept that was created by the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The clock is not a physical thing but is used to indicate how close human civilization is to destroying itself with our own technology, with the world's destruction being indicated by midnight.
"Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernization, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity," said the bulletin. "World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe."
The clock has generally stayed around three minutes or higher over the last 60 years, and the last time it within two minutes was the year after the Soviet Union and the United States had completed hydrogen bomb testing.
The clock's changes have been determined by the organization since the concept's introduction in June 1947. According to Board executive director and publisher, Rachel Bronson, the recent conclusion of the clock moving to the closest to the end of civilization in 64 years is an indicator of the dangerous times we live in.
"We're so concerned about the rhetoric and the lack of respect for expertise that we move it 30 seconds," said Bronson after the announcement. "Rather than create panic, we're hoping that this drives action."
Bulletin chairperson and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss explicitly blamed the change on the threat of Trump and Vladimir Putin, who seems to be modernizing atomic weapons. The nuclear threat of Trump and Putin combined with the ever-growing threat of international cyber threats, which have been heightened by the reports of Russian involvement in the 2016 election, are seen as very dangerous.
The most recent time the Doomsday Clock was significantly low in the last decade was in 2015.