The symbolic Doomsday Clock, maintained by members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, remains at three minutes to midnight, symbolizing the world’s distance from a nuclear catastrophe, according to CNN. The clock, which was moved two minutes forward to 11:57 in 2015, indicates the Bulletin’s belief that the world is the closest it has been to catastrophe since the height of the Cold War.
Citing increased nuclearization around the world - including North Korea’s alleged testing of a hydrogen bomb, the movement of short-to-medium range nuclear weapons by Russia and the potential of US nuclear weapons to be placed back in Europe - a group of scientists from the Bulletin announced on Jan. 26 that the minute hand of the clock face would remain at last year’s position despite international cooperation on policies such as the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal.
The Bulletin consults with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 16 Nobel laureates, to make decisions about what figures to indicate on the clock face. The Doomsday Clock, which was created in 1947 and has been updated only 22 times in its almost 70-year history, symbolizes the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from factors such as nuclear weapons and climate change, with midnight representing complete destruction.
"Three minutes (to midnight) is too close. Far too close," the Bulletin said in a statement. "We, the members of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, want to be clear about our decision not to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock in 2016: That decision is not good news, but an expression of dismay that world leaders continue to fail to focus their efforts and the world's attention on reducing the extreme danger posed by nuclear weapons and climate change.
The Bulletin is an academic journal that was established in 1945, after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the U.S. in World War II. Today, it is a nonprofit organization that “engages science leaders, policy makers, and the interested public on topics of nuclear weapons and disarmament, the changing energy landscape, climate change, and emerging technologies,” according to its mission statement.