In what is considered to be a symbolic look toward humanity’s demise, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on Tuesday said the Doomsday Clock will remain at three minutes to midnight—unchanged from where the clock stood in 2015. At least for the time being, our world won’t descend into a Fallout apocalypse—but don’t start celebrating just yet. These scientists warn armageddon can strike at any moment.
The Bulletin, formed in 1945, has been updating the Doomsday Clock since 1947 as a way to measure the likelihood of humanity’s downfall, whether it be through nuclear weapons, climate change, or surprise space rocks plummeting into the Earth’s surface. Last year, Bulletin scientists moved the clock to three minutes to midnight because “unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity.”
The decision to keep the clock at three minutes to midnight was made due to the rising tensions between the United States and Russia, which the Bulletin describes as “levels reminiscent of the worst periods of the Cold War.” Additionally, conflicts throughout Europe and in other parts of the world have kept these scientists on edge, while global temperatures continue to rise. A recent study by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed 2015 was the warmest year in recorded history.
Despite the clock’s ominous position, this isn’t the closest it has been to midnight. Bulletin scientists set the Doomsday Clock at two minutes till midnight in 1953, which is the same year the United States began pursuing the hydrogen bomb, a weapon of mass destruction much more powerful than the atomic bomb.
“A new Cold War looms, with absolutely insupportable, extraordinarily expensive, extremely shortsighted nuclear “modernization” programs continuing apace around the world,” the Bulletin wrote. “Paris notwithstanding, the fight against climate change has barely begun, and it is unclear that the nations of the world are ready to make the many hard choices that will be necessary to stabilize the climate and avert possible environmental disasters.”
While the Bulletin’s Doomsday Clock is merely symbolic in nature, meant to reflect the current climate of the world, it still highlights very real threats. Our existence can be wiped out at any moment—just ask Michael Bay. But hopefully it won’t be the world’s politicians and military leaders that lead to our downfall.