SCIENCE

Doomsday Clock Predicts We’re On The Eve Of Destruction

Atomic scientists maintain the Doomsday Clock as a metaphor for how close we are to annihilation. But this year, they're not updating it

Jan 26, 2016 at 3:59 PM ET

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists just announced that the time on the famous “Doomsday Clock,” a symbolic measure for how close humanity is to catastrophe, will continue to stand at only three minutes until midnight, as of January 2016. The decision reflects scientists’ growing concerns that the world is just as unprepared to survive disasters caused by climate change and nuclear proliferation as it was last year.

More A Brief History Of North Korea’s Nuclear Tests

Although the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal crippled one worrisome nuclear program, the Bulletin says it was still unable to downgrade the clock due to rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia, North Korea’s recent nuclear tests and rising concerns about the potentially deadly effects of climate change.

“We’ve decided not to move the clock either forward or backward. It will remain set at 11:57—three minutes to midnight,” writes Lawrence M. Krauss, chair of the board of sponsors of the Bulletin, for the New Yorker. “The fact that the clock’s hands aren’t moving isn’t good news. It’s an expression of grave concern about how the global situation remains largely the same. The last time the clock was this close to midnight was in 1983—the height of the Cold War.”

Unfortunately, the Doomsday Clock spends quite a bit of time hovering around midnight. The Bulletin has placed us less than five minutes from annihilation no less than seven times since the clock began ticking in 1947. Here’s a breakdown of all the times we stood mere minutes from the Eve of Destruction: