People of Earth, Prepare to Meet Your Doom (and I Blame Iron Maiden)

How close are we to total, global annihilation?

Close. Real close.

The “Doomsday clock” was established by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947, and measures threats to our existence, based on numerous factors (nuclear threats, bioterrorism, biosecurity, climate change, and odds and ends threats, like cyber-terrorism). Each year, there’s a big reveal, and either mankind is moved further away, or closer to midnight.

The clock was originally conceived by a group of atomic scientists who had been involved with the Manhattan Project, the scheme responsible for the first nuclear weapons. The scientists regularly produced a bulletin detailing progress and updates in nuclear weaponry and the clock was first designed as an illustration for the cover of the first edition.

Since then, the clock has moved backwards and forwards – from seventeen minutes to midnight in 1991 to two minutes to midnight in 1953.

Last year, the clock was moved because of the “Trump effect.” Because of the rise of white nationalism, Trump’s comments on nuclear weapons, and the perceived threat of a new arms race between the U.S. and Russia, the clock moved from 3 minutes to 2-1/2 minutes to midnight.

Through the years, it has looked like this:

1947 – 7 minutes to midnight: In its first appearance, the clock’s hand sat at seven minutes to midnight to highlight the “urgency of nuclear dangers”

1949 – 3 minutes to midnight: The clock moved ever closer to midnight as the Soviet Union tested its first nuclear device

1953 – 2 minutes to midnight: The US created the hydrogen bomb

1963 – 12 minutes to midnight: Atmospheric nuclear testing ended

1984 – 3 minutes to midnight US-Soviet relations reached their frostiest level in years

1991 – 17 minutes to midnight: The Cold War ended and the clock jumped back

2015 – 3 minutes to midnight: 2015’s Doomsday Clock was stuck at three minutes to midnight due to “unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals”, all of which posed “an extraordinary and undeniable threat to the continued existence of humanity”.

So, where are we now?

According to the eggheads with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, we’re at 2 minutes to midnight.

Does that spell certain doom?

No. I wouldn’t count on it, at all, although I’m more sure now than ever that if there’s a way for people to destroy each other, they’ll find it. It’s in our nature. It’s just a symbol for keeping the world engaged with the threats that exist.

And am I the only one that immediately thought of Iron Maiden?