NEWS

Doomsday Clock Is Closest It's Been To Midnight Since 1953

01/26/2017 12:45 EST | Updated 01/26/2017 12:53 EST

Be afraid? Yeah, maybe.

A metric used for 70 years to gauge how close the planet is to apocalypse now affirms many people’s fears.

The Doomsday Clock has moved half a minute closer to midnight, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced on Thursday. The world is now two and a half minutes away.

This is the closest we've come to catastrophe since 1953, when the United States and the Soviet Union had both tested hydrogen bombs.

The organization was founded by the University of Chicago scientists behind the Manhattan Project, which developed the world’s first atomic weapon.

doomsday clock

Members of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists deliver remarks on the 2017 time for the "Doomsday Clock" on Jan. 26 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Its Science and Security Board gave a number of reasons for its decision, including tensions between the U.S. and Russia in 2016, North Korea’s underground nuclear tests, global warming’s continual march forward, and, you guessed it — the election of Donald Trump.

The board highlighted “disturbing” comments Trump made about nuclear weapons and his dismissal of climate change.

One person’s words haven’t historically influenced the board’s decision, but cyberattacks and deception campaigns during the U.S. presidential race with reported ties to Russia did.

Those events made the world more dangerous than a year ago, the board said.

"The probability of global catastrophe is very high."

The clock stayed put at three minutes to midnight last year, after ticking two minutes down in 2015 after Russia annexed Crimea and invaded Ukraine, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

But we could still get closer to disaster in the next year or two.

“The board’s decision to move the clock less than a full minute—something it has never before done— reflects a simple reality: As this statement is issued, Donald Trump has been the U.S. president only a matter of days,” the board wrote.

Many of his cabinet nominees haven't been confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and he hasn't had time to do very much as president.

But the board still stressed the extent of the overall threat.

"The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon," the board wrote.

"Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way."

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