The Doomsday Clock Is the Closest It's Been to Midnight Since 1953

The Doomsday Clock has moved even closer to midnight.

As The Washington Post reports, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists — a public policy and global security journal founded by Manhattan Project scientists — have announced that the metaphorical clock intended to illustrate how close the planet is to catastrophe is now set at two minutes to midnight. This is a 30-second jump and, while that may seem small, it's notable for being the closest the clock has moved to midnight since 1953. The last time the clock was updated was just under one year ago.

There are myriad reasons why this anxiety-inducing prognosis has been given and, for many Americans, most will come as no surprise. The Bulletin's chairs, Lawrence Krauss and Robert Rosner, explained this decision in an op-ed, citing the threat of nuclear war and climate change as the reasons why.

"The failure in 2017 to secure a temporary freeze on North Korea's nuclear development was unsurprising," Krauss and Rosner explained before accusing President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un of partaking in a "downward spiral of nuclear rhetoric." Simultaneous and precarious nuclear tensions with Russia, China, and the Middle East along with potential cyberattacks were also noted as very real threats.

Krauss and Rosner did assert that climate change may not seem as immediate as nuclear war, but even so, the clear failure in taking action on the problem is nearly as devastating. "The nations of the world will have to significantly decrease their greenhouse-gas emissions," they wrote, alluding to the Paris Agreement. "So far, the global response has fallen far short of meeting this challenge." Naturally, the two pointed toward Trump's negligence regarding climate change as a major factor in this decision.

Of course, The Doomsday Clock serves purely as a metaphorical representation of the precarious political position the world is in. And the clock has wavered between 17 minutes and two minutes — where it is currently set — since its inception in 1947 and could be reset at any time if the political landscape takes multiple chill pills (and several seats.) So don't fret just yet — instead, rest uneasy and call your representative in the hopes that your pleas for peace will trickle up to orange ears.