The Doomsday Clock now holds at two minutes to midnight, with the world facing the closest risk of global catastrophe since the Cold War in 1953, in part due to actions by the Trump administration, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
The group of scientists, Nobel Laureates and other experts announced Thursday it had moved the hands of the symbolic, apocalyptic clock up 30 seconds for 2018, citing an "obvious and imminent danger" from growing nuclear risks, dangers from climate change and a "breakdown in the international order."
"Neither allies nor adversaries have been able to reliably predict U.S. actions or understand when U.S. pronouncements are real, and when they are mere rhetoric," the group said. "International diplomacy has been reduced to name-calling, giving it a surrealistic sense of unreality that makes the world security situation ever more threatening."
The statement cited as risks U.S. and Russian military entanglements, South China Sea tensions, escalating rhetoric between Pakistan and India, and uncertainty over the future of the Iran nuclear deal. The group also singled out internet-based campaigns to disrupt free elections.
"North Korea’s nuclear weapons program appeared to make remarkable progress in 2017, increasing risks for itself, other countries in the region, and the United States," the group said in a statement. "Hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions on both sides have increased the possibility of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation."
People should demand action to reduce the threat of nuclear war and climate change, the group said.
The Doomsday Clock was created 71 years ago. Last year was the first time the scientists behind it had moved it 30 seconds, citing then-incoming President Donald Trump's "intemperate statements, lack of openness to expert advice, and questionable cabinet nominations," in part for the move.
The clock was last set to two minutes before midnight in 1953, when the U.S. was cited for pursuing the hydrogen bomb.