The metaphoric 'Doomsday Clock', created by the world's leading scientists to indicate how close we are to a global catastrophe, will remain at 'three minutes to midnight'. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced from Washington DC on 26 January that despite the dangers of nuclear weapons, climate change and warring nations, our risk has remained stagnant after last year's hike.
Midnight on the clock represents 'doomsday' and the closer we find ourselves to midnight the more likely we are to face a cataclysmic event. The group of scientists who decide where the minute hand should sit on the symbolic clock come from a range of fields including physicists, environmental scientists and experts on atomic energy. The decision to move the hand is made in consultation with the bulletin's Board of Sponsors, which includes 16 Nobel laureates.
Each year the metaphoric hand can be moved up and down in which to "convey how close we are to destroying our civilisation with dangerous technologies of our own making," the Bulletin says on its website. In 2015 the clock was moved from 'five minutes to midnight' to three due to fears over climate change and the continued threat of nuclear weapons.
A number of factors were discussed in the report that have led to the clock remaining at its closest to midnight since the Cold War. These include tensions between the US and Russia, the recent claimed North Korean 'nuclear' test, China, Pakistan, and India all increasing their nuclear arsenals, conflict over free passage in the South China Sea, and a "mixed response" to climate change.
The group put a stark message on its website after announcing the clock hand will be remaining still. The statement said: "The world situation remains highly threatening to humanity, and decisive action to reduce the danger posed by nuclear weapons and climate change is urgently required".
But all is not lost in mankind's attempt to avoid global Armageddon, the scientists also recommend a number of measures which could help us avoid an apocalypse. They said we must, as a planet, reduce spending on nuclear weapons, keep global warming to under 2C, and engage with isolated North Korea.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded by University of Chicago scientists in 1945 by those who had first created the very first atomic weapons. The scientists created the "Doomsday Clock" two years later in 1947.