A group of prominent international scientists say the inability of world leaders to make progress on nuclear weapons reduction and proliferation, and continued inaction on climate change, has led them to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock one minute closer to midnight - the hour that symbolizes possible global destruction.
Efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons continue to meet obstacles, and that is one main reason why the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock forward to five minutes to midnight.
"Today with the clear and present dangers of nuclear proliferation, climate change and the continued challenge to find new and sustainable and safe sources of energy, business as usual reigns the norm among world leaders," announced Lawrence Krauss, co-chair of the group's board of sponsors.
Two years ago, hopes of nuclear cooperation between the U.S. and Russia, and the election of President Barack Obama, inspired the group to move the clock one minute back to six minutes until midnight. Now, that hope has been replaced by uncertainty.
"At a time when there are going to be elections in the United States, in Russia, in France and a change of leadership in China, there is some uncertainty therefore about the nuclear weapon programs of these countries and the policies that the new leadership will follow," said Jayantha Dhanapala of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Robert Socolow, a member of the group's science and security board, urged world leaders to look to science for answers.
"The world is in a pickle," he warned. "Many people want to live better than they live now on a planet of finite size, not as large as we wish it were. And we have challenges to our atmosphere, to our forests, to our oceans, to our political systems, to our values."
Still, the group noted that the Arab Spring and other efforts by citizens around the globe to let their voices be heard were positive developments. Whether it is in New York or Russia, the group says people power is essential to face the world's wide range of challenges.