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Doomsday Clock Ticks 30 Seconds Closer to Global Annihilation Thanks to Trump, Scientists Say

The clock is revised annually, but recent events, including statements made by President Trump, prompted the keepers of the block to push it forward.
Image: Scientisis Move Doomsday Clock to Two and a Half Minutes to Midnight
Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, left, and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Thomas Pickering announce the decision to move the so-called 'Doomsday Clock' to 2-1/2 minutes to midnight on Jan. 26, 2017.Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

The world is ticking another 30 seconds closer to the apocalypse — in part because of Donald Trump.

At least that's the dire warning from the group of scientists who oversee the metaphorical Doomsday Clock, the hands of which were moved Thursday to two minutes and 30 seconds before midnight — the time that represents when a catastrophic nuclear event can annihilate the earth.

It’s the closest the clock has been to midnight since the Cold War of the 1950s.

The clock is revised annually, but remained at three minutes before midnight last year — the same as it was in 2015 — after positive global developments such as the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement helped stave off a doomsday scenario.

But the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a science journal which oversees the clock, said recent events prompted them to push the clock forward in 2017.

Those include a rise in strident nationalism worldwide, cyber threats, an "active and blatant disregarding" for factual science and President Trump’s comments on nuclear arms and climate change.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that global warming is a hoax. Meanwhile, in December, he tweeted that he would like to expand America's nuclear weapons capability — apparently rejecting four decades of U.S. policy to reduce nuclear arms.

"Six or seven days into a new administration, we wanted to send a message that things are not going in the right direction," Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist affiliated with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said at a news conference Thursday.

Regardless of whether the scientists' symbolic timepiece was changed by “30 seconds or a minute, this is historic,” Krauss added. “The clock has not been closer to midnight in 64 years. We felt things are inching in a more dangerous path, but we try not to act on the moment.”

The Doomsday Clock was at two minutes to midnight in 1953, when the U.S. was mired in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. That year, President Harry Truman announced the U.S. had developed a hydrogen bomb — putting the threat of a thermonuclear war on the table.

The clock, which was first set in 1947 to seven minutes before midnight, was pushed as far back as 17 minutes before midnight in 1991. That was the year the Cold War ended.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says its purpose is to bring awareness to nuclear disarmament, climate change and energy, and other technology issues that can help save the earth.

"The future of the clock and our future is in your hands," Krauss said Thursday.

The Bulletin’s board bases the clock's time with a consultation from its Board of Sponsors, which includes 16 Nobel laureates.