three minutes to midnight.
"Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernisation of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity,” said Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in Chicago, the group of scientists which set the clock.
Although the clock is essentially a barometer, it is set by a team that includes 17 Nobel Prize winners and is taken extremely seriously.
The committee pointed out that greenhouse gas emissions have soared by 50 per cent since 1990, while more than £660bn of investment floods into fossil fuel infrastructure every year.
“The resulting climate change will harm millions of people and will threaten many key ecological systems on which civilisation relies. This threat looms over all of humanity,” said committee member Richard Somerville.
The report also raised considerable concerns about nuclear weapons.
“Since the end of the Cold War, there has been a cautious optimism about the ability of nuclear weapon states to keep the nuclear arms race in check and to walk back slowly from the precipice of nuclear destruction,” said Sharon Squassoni, a member of the clock committee.
“That optimism has essentially evaporated in the face of two trends: sweeping nuclear weapon modernisation programmes and a disarmament machinery that has ground to a halt,” she added.
The last time the clock read three minutes to midnight was in 1983 when “US-Soviet relations were at their iciest” according to the bulletin.