The world has edged closer to apocalypse in the past year amid a darkening security measures and pronouncements by US President Donald Trump, says scientists.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BPA) moved the minute hand of the symbolic Doomsday Clock from three minutes to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight.
It is the second closest it has been since 1953 when US and Russia exercised hydrogen bomb tests.
In the midst of the apocalypse momentum, BPA chief Rachel Bronson urged world leaders to “calm rather than stoke tensions that could lead to war”.
In a BPA report, they based the clock adjustment following President Trump’s statements on climate change, expanding the US nuclear arsenal and the questioning of intelligence agencies had contributed to the heightened global risk.
It can also be remembered that it is the closest the clock has come to midnight since 1953, when the minute hand was moved to two minutes away following hydrogen bomb tests by the US and Russia.
Doomsday clock’s minute hand is a metaphor for how vulnerable to catastrophe the world is deemed to be.
The symbolic device was crafted by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947. The BPA was founded at the University of Chicago in 1945 by a group of scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons.
Today, the group includes physicists and environmental scientists from around the world, who decide whether to adjust the clock in consultation with the group’s Board of Sponsors – which includes 15 Nobel laureates.
Meanwhile, for the last two years, the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock has stayed set at three minutes before the hour. But the BPA says the danger of global disaster is even greater in 2017, and so has moved the hand forward 30 seconds.
It said: “Disturbing comments about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons made by Donald Trump, as well as the expressed disbelief in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change by both Trump and several of his cabinet appointees, affected the Board’s decision, as did the emergence of strident nationalism worldwide.”
In 2015, the clock was last adjusted when it was moved from five minutes to three minutes to midnight amid global perils such as climate change and nuclear proliferation.
The BPA move comes following Trump’s controversial move such as Immigration ban and intensive crusade against terrorism.