If it was New Year's Eve, I'd say you should be excited if it was only three minutes to midnight. However, since this is the Doomsday Clock we're talking about, I'd say you should be getting excited in an entirely different way.
In case you don't know, the so-called "Doomsday Clock" is a symbolic clock that atomic scientists use to tell us how close we are to the end of civilization. Now, it's two minutes closer. In fact, our species is closer to extinction than it has been since 1984.
The Doomsday Clock was originally created in 1945 by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) who helped to develop the first atomic weapons during the Manhattan Project. And now the BAS, which currently includes 18 Nobel Laureates, has moved the clock two minutes closer to midnight.
This is a much bigger deal than it sounds. On the Doomsday Clock, midnight represents Doomsday, or when threats will peak and cause global catastrophes. The clock hasn't been this close to midnight since we were in a nuclear arms race with Russia.
"The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in life sciences. Since it was set up, the hand on the clock has moved 18 times, and each move represents how the scientists view the world's chances of survival in the face of these threats."
Members of the BAS board are hoping that by moving the hands of the clock they will help to cause change on a global scale to reduce the risk of catastrophe.
"'The danger is great but our message is not one of hopelessness,' Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS), said in the announcement. 'We find conditions to be so threatening that we are moving the hand two minutes closer. It is now three minutes to midnight,' she continued.
"Countries emitting carbon dioxide and other gases are transforming Earth’s climate in a dangerous way, she said, leaving millions vulnerable to rising sea levels, famines and 'killer storms.' She also cited a failure by governments around the world to reduce their nuclear arsenal, in particular the US and Russia."
You can see in the infographic below how close we have come to midnight before now. The results are not very encouraging, but there does seem to be some hope on the horizon. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.