Thanks to the radically changing climate and nuclear arsenals, the scientists have moved the minute hand of the symbolic Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight.
The Doomsday Clock, devised and maintained by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, represents a countdown to possible global catastrophe. The periodical, founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, shows that today, the steps to address climate change do not even match expectations of five years ago, let alone of 2015.
Since its creation in 1947, when it showed that the world was seven minutes away from Doomsday, the clock has been adjusted 18 times.
1949: When American President Harry Truman revealed to the public that the The Soviet Union has tested its first nuclear device, the clock was adjusted to three minutes away from midnight.
1953: The clock was moved by a minute, or two minutes away from midnight, when the United States, following the Soviet Union tested their first hydrogen bomb, a weapon far more powerful than any atomic bomb.
1960: The clock hand was taken back to its initial position of seven minutes from midnight, when for the first time the United States and Soviet Union decided to quell diplomatic hostilities.
1963: The Doomsday clock showed a less scary time when the hand was taken back to 12 minutes away from midnight. It symbolised the Partial Test Ban Treaty signed by the US and the Soviet Union, wherein it was agreed neither countries would carry out atmospheric nuclear testing.
1968: When many regional wars began raging across the world, like the India-Pakistan battle (1965), renewal of hostilities between Israel and its Arab neighbours (1967), intensification of US involvement in the Vietnam and France and China developing nuclear weapons, all led to the Bulletin moving the Doomsday clock five minutes towards midnight.
1969: Barely a year later, the bulletin moved it back to 10 minutes away from midnight, owing to almost all the nations signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
1972: When the United States and Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to try and curb the race for nuclear superiority, the clock hand was taken back by two more minutes.
1974: Two years later, the clock moved further towards the midnight three minutes, when India tested its first nuclear device. Any agreements previously signed in order for arms control was considered non-existent as US and the Soviet Union kept modernising their nuclear forces.
1980: The US and Soviet Union continued to behave like "'nucleoholics" forcing the bulletin to the move the doomsday clock further closer to midnight. It is now seven minutes away.
1981: President Jimmy Carter and successor Ronald Reagan, both believed that advancing in nuclear warfare was important. The latter also believed that the best way to End Cold War was for United States to win it.
1984: The Doomsday clockhand is moved to three minutes away from midnight as U.S.-Soviet relations reach their iciest point in decades and the two countries completely stop peaceful communication.
1988: The United States and Soviet Union sign the historic Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the first agreement to actually ban a whole category of nuclear weapons, allowing the metaphoric clock to be moved three minutes away from midnight.
1990: "Forty-four years after Winston Churchill's 'Iron Curtain' speech, the myth of monolithic communism has been shattered for all to see," the Bulletin proclaims and moves the clock to 10 minutes away from midnight as the Berlin Wall falls, symbolising the breakup of Soviet Union. It also significantly diminished the risk of all-out nuclear war.
1991: The clock hand is 17 minutes away -- the farthest it has ever been -- from midnight. With the Cold War officially over, the illusion of maintaining national security with nuclear weapons was quelled.
1995: Hopes for a large post-Cold War peace and complete eradication of nuclear weapons fade as US hard-liners claim that a resurgent Russia could provide as much of a threat as the Soviet Union. The clock hand was moved by three minutes.
1998: With India and Pakistan staging nuclear weapons tests three weeks apart, and US and Russia still remaining at loggerheads, the Bulletin moves the clock to nine minutes away from midnight.
2002: The clock is now seven minutes away from midnight as enormous amount of unsecured --and sometimes unaccounted for -- weapon-grade nuclear materials located throughout the world.
2007: Climate change adds to the nuclear war risk, and Bulletin moves the hand two minutes closer to midnight. "The United States and Russia remain ready to stage a nuclear attack within minutes, North Korea conducts a nuclear test, and many in the international community worry that Iran plans to acquire the Bomb," reported the bulletin.
2010: With developing and industrialised countries agreeing to take responsibility for carbon emissions, and negotiations on U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenal taking place, the bulletin takes the hand a minute away from midnight.
2012: The bulletin acknowledges that nuclear weapons may be implemented in the regional conflicts in the the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and South Asia, and that the pace of technological solutions to address climate change is not adequate. The clock is five minutes away from midnight.
2015: "Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe," declared the bulletin as it moved the clock three minutes away from midnight. Moreover, the United States and Russia are also looking at ways to modernise their nuclear triads—thereby undermining existing nuclear weapons treaties.
— Sputnik US (@SputnikNewsUS) January 23, 2015