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Scientists Move Doomsday Clock Closer to Midnight

Climate scientist Richard Somerville, a member, Science and Security Board, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, unveils the new Doomsday Clock in Washington, Jan. 22, 2015.

Unchecked climate change and modernized nuclear arsenals prompted the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to move the minute hand of the symbolic Doomsday Clock forward two minutes. It now stands at three minutes to midnight, reflecting the group's assessment of the current threats to humanity and the planet.

This is the first adjustment of the clock in three years. Since it was created in 1947 by scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons, the minute hand of the clock has been moved 18 times. It stood as close as two minutes before midnight in 1953, after the first test of the hydrogen bomb, and was backed off to 17 minutes till midnight in 1991.

In announcing Thursday's time change, the organization said "world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.”

It went on to call for quick action to avert catastrophe, including a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, reduced spending on nuclear weapons modernization, a re-energized disarmament process and a plan to deal with nuclear waste.