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Doomsday clock has world at two minutes from Armageddon

Former California Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and former Secretary of Defense William Perry unveil the Doomsday Clock in Washington on Jan. 24, 2019. -
Cliff Owen AP
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Humanity is just two minutes from Armageddon, unchanged from last year's unveiling of the Doomsday clock and remaining the closest it has inched to symbolic doom since 1953 in the height of the Cold War.

That was the bleak outlook from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a nonprofit organization that oversees the clock — a symbolic timepiece that represents humanity's perceived proximity to a human-caused apocalypse.

Citing nuclear arms races, threats of a cyberattack and the ongoing climate change, the clock's minute hand was not moved from 2018, the organization announced Thursday morning saying we are living in a "new abnormal."

"There is nothing normal about the complex and frightening reality we are describing today," said Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in a press release following the unveiling of the clock.

"Though unchanged from 2018, this setting should be taken not as a sign of stability but as a stark warning to leaders and citizens around the world."

The Doomsday Clock doesn't represent a real prediction of calamity, but is instead used as a visual metaphor for how close the world is to a potentially civilization-ending catastrophe.

Each year, the organization consults with a board of sponsors that includes 15 Nobel Laureates to analyze a wide array of threats — including nuclear risk, climate change and emerging technologies — to determine where the Doomsday Clock's hands should be set.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 and the group has maintained the Doomsday Clock since 1947.