Doomsday Clock moves thirty seconds closer to 'midnight' due to rising nuclear tensions, climate change

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists officially moved its Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to 'midnight' on Thursday morning, citing both rising nuclear tensions and climate change as the main influences behind the update. 

The clock is now set at just two minutes away from doom, the closest it has ever been since 1953 when the United States and the Soviet Union upgraded their nuclear arsenals with the hydrogen bomb.

If you're not familiar with the clock, here it is in a nutshell.

The foreboding device, created and maintained by the Bulletintakes into account the many potential factors that may bring about the end of the world in order to accurately predict a potential apocalypse.

Perils that can contribute to the clock's time may include, but are not limited to, nuclear threats, climate change and biosecurity challenges.

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, when the clock strikes 'midnight,' the world as we know it comes to an end — though by what means is yet to be determined.

The clock has wavered between two and 17 minutes until doom since its inception in 1947.

Thursday's change reflects the second time ever that the time has reached two minutes to midnight. The first time was during the Cold War era.

The scientists behind the device have credited the alarming update mainly to the rising threat of global nuclear war and our failure to properly address the issue of climate change.

"To call the world nuclear situation dire is to understate the danger — and its immediacy," wrote chairs of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Board Lawrence Krauss and Robert Rosner in an op-ed for the Washington Post. "North Korea’s nuclear weapons program appeared to make remarkable progress in 2017, increasing risks for itself, other countries in the region and the United States."

Krauss, a theoretical physicist, and Rosner, an astrophysicist, went on to cite provocative rhetoric between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a large influence on their decision to move us closer to the apocalypse.

"The failure in 2017 to secure a temporary freeze on North Korea’s nuclear development was unsurprising to observers of the downward spiral of nuclear rhetoric between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un," they wrote. "But North Korea’s developing nuclear program will reverberate not just in the Asia-Pacific, as neighboring countries review their security options, but more widely, as all countries consider the costs and benefits of the international framework of nonproliferation treaties and agreements."

Krauss and Rosner also discussed climate change as a major influence on the decision, saying that although the danger of global warming may seem less immediate than the risk of nuclear annihilation, urgent attention is still needed to avoid catastrophic temperature increases.

"So far, the global response has fallen far short of meeting this challenge," they said.

Following the announcement, the Bulletin took to its website to share advice on how we can help turn back the hands of the clock by its next reassessment in January of 2019.  

"The failure of world leaders to address the largest threats to humanity’s future is lamentable," it wrote, "but that failure can be reversed."

"Leaders react when citizens insist they do so, and citizens around the world can use the power of the internet to improve the long-term prospects of their children and grandchildren," the Bulletin suggested. "They can insist on facts, and discount nonsense. They can demand action to reduce the existential threat of nuclear war and unchecked climate change. They can seize the opportunity to make a safer and saner world."

Read the full statement here.

More about the Doomsday Clock: 

15 PHOTOS
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Doomsday Clock

Dr. Leon Lederman, an internationally renowned high-energy physicist, adjusts the hands on the 'Doomsday Clock' two minutes closer to midnight 27 February, 2002 at the University of Chicago. The Doomsday Clock has been used by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist since 1947 to represent the perceived danger of a catastophic nuclear event. The clock now reads 7 minutes until midnight.

(SCOTT OLSON/AFP/Getty Images)

From L to R, Lawrence Krauss (2nd L), chair of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientistists' Board of Sponsors, former US ambassador to the UN and current member of the Bulletin's Science and Security Board Thomas Pickering, Sivan Kartha, member of the Bulletin's Science and Security Board, and Sharon Squassoni, member of the Bulletin's Science and Security Board sit by by the 'Doomsday Clock' showing that the world is now three minutes away from catastrophe during a joint press conference of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in Washington, DC, on January 26, 2016.

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

(L-R) 'The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Publisher Rachel Bronson, Arizona State University New Origins Initiative Director Lawrence Krauss, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board member Thomas Pickering, Stockholm Environment Institute Senior Scientist Sivan Kartha and Center for Strategic and International Studies' Proliferation Prevention Program Director Sharon Squassoni hold a news conference to reveal the new setting of the Doomsday Clock at the National Press Club January 26, 2016 in Washington, DC. The bulletin's Science and Security Board takes into consideration 'the number and kinds of nuclear weapons in the world, the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the degree of acidity in our oceans and the rate of sea level rise' when setting the clock as a warning against self-destruction.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board member Thomas Pickering speaks during a news conference where The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reveals the newest setting of its Doomsday Clock at the National Press Club January 26, 2016 in Washington, DC. The bulletin's Science and Security Board takes into consideration 'the number and kinds of nuclear weapons in the world, the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the degree of acidity in our oceans and the rate of sea level rise' when setting the clock as a warning against self-destruction.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Lawrence Krauss (2nd L), chair of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' Board of Sponsors stands by the 'Doomsday Clock' showing that the world is now three minutes away from catastrophe as scientists at Stanford University in California unveil theirs during a joint press conference of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in Washington, DC, on January 26, 2016. On left, is Sharon Squassoni, member of the Bulletin's Science and Security Board, and standing behind the clock is former US ambassador to the UN and current member of the Bulletin's Science and Security Board Thomas Pickering.

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Leonard Reiser, chairman of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and member of the Manhattan Project adjusts the Doomsday Clock ahead from 14 minutes to nine minutes before midnight June 11 in Chicago. The move, symbolizing the planet moving closer to nuclear peril, was prompted by the recent tests in India and Pakistan. 

(Reuters Photographer / Reuters)

Arizona State University New Origins Initiative Director Lawrence Krauss (C) and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board member Thomas Pickering (R) unveil the latest version of the Doomsday Clock with Stockholm Environment Institute Senior Scientist Sivan Kartha (L) and Center for Strategic and International Studies' Proliferation Prevention Program Director Sharon Squassoni during a news conference at the National Press Club January 26, 2016 in Washington, DC. The bulletin's Science and Security Board takes into consideration 'the number and kinds of nuclear weapons in the world, the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the degree of acidity in our oceans and the rate of sea level rise' when setting the clock as a warning against self-destruction.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(L-R) 'The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Publisher Rachel Bronson, Arizona State University New Origins Initiative Director Lawrence Krauss, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board member Thomas Pickering, Stockholm Environment Institute Senior Scientist Sivan Kartha and Center for Strategic and International Studies' Proliferation Prevention Program Director Sharon Squassoni hold a news conference at the National Press Club January 26, 2016 in Washington, DC. The bulletin's Science and Security Board takes into consideration 'the number and kinds of nuclear weapons in the world, the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the degree of acidity in our oceans and the rate of sea level rise' when setting the clock as a warning against self-destruction.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Photo dated 27 February 2002 of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist's 'Doomsday Clock' reads seven minutes to midnight after being adjusted two minutes closer in Chicago. The Doomsday Clock has been used by the Bulletin since 1947 to represent the perceived danger of a catastrophic nuclear event. Just steps from the birthplace of nuclear power, the Doomsday Clock is counting down to nuclear Armageddon and North Korea could push it closer to midnight. The Korean peninsula is not even pictured on the map etched onto the flat copper clock: only the Americas, Europe and Africa are shown, but it will dominate the discussion when a group of leading experts meet in Chicago next month to discuss the global nuclear threat.

(SCOTT OLSON/AFP/Getty Images)

(L-R) Stockholm Environment Institute Senior Scientist Sivan Kartham, Center for Strategic and International Studies' Proliferation Prevention Program Director Sharon Squassoni and Arizona State University New Origins Initiative Director Lawrence Krauss simultaneously unveil the Doomsday Clock with other scientists in California during a news conference at the National Press Club January 26, 2016 in Washington, DC. The bulletin's Science and Security Board takes into consideration 'the number and kinds of nuclear weapons in the world, the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the degree of acidity in our oceans and the rate of sea level rise' when setting the clock as a warning against self-destruction.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Center for Strategic and International Studies' Proliferation Prevention Program Director Sharon Squassoni speaks during a news conference where The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reveals the newest setting of its Doomsday Clock at the National Press Club January 26, 2016 in Washington, DC. The bulletin's Science and Security Board takes into consideration 'the number and kinds of nuclear weapons in the world, the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the degree of acidity in our oceans and the rate of sea level rise' when setting the clock as a warning against self-destruction.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(R-L) Lawrence Krauss, co-chair of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist (BAS), Kennette Benedict, executive director of BAS, Stephen Schneider, of BAS Science and Security Board, Jayantha Dhanapala, of BAS Board of Sponsors and Pervez Hoodbhoy, of BAS Board of Sponsors, speak to each other following a press conference announcing the adjustment by one minute back of the 'Doomsday Clock' on January 14, 2010 in New York City. The clock measures how vulnerable the world is to disaster from nuclear weapons and threats from the climate or new technologies.

(Photo by David Goldman/Getty Images)

(R-L) Lawrence Krauss, co-chair of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, Stephen Schneider of BAS Science and Security Board and Jayantha Dhanapala of BAS Board of Sponsors hold a press conference announcing the adjustment by one minute back of the 'Doomsday Clock' on January 14, 2010 in New York City. The clock measures how vulnerable the world is to disaster from nuclear weapons and threats from the climate or new technologies.

(Photo by David Goldman/Getty Images)

A depiction of the Doomsday Clock is removed following an announcement by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) announcing that it has moved the hands to five minutes to midnight, up one minute from two years ago, at the American Association for the Advancement in Washington, DC, on January 10, 2012. The closer the time on the Doomsday Clock is to midnight, the closer the world is to global disaster according to the organization. Citing what they called 'inadequate progress on nuclear weapons reduction and proliferation and continuing inaction on climate change,' the organization decided to move the time one minute closer to midnight, the closest it has been to midnight since 2007.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

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