The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock even closer to midnight, citing serious concerns around global nuclear security, IT security issues, and artificial intelligence, and, of course, the climate. While no one should have been surprised about the climate being a major driving force behind pushing the clock to just 3 minutes before midnight, the move is one that caught some off-guard. The clock is not an actual clock. In fact, the Doomsday Clock is something of an imagined thing, which is controlled by a group of highly-touted scientists.

That being said, there is a certain degree of merit behind this – as it pertains to our history, and what were some of our most-uncertain times. While this isn’t the closest the clock has ever been set to midnight – the proverbial time of the apocalypse – it is a significant shift over the course of the last 20-30 years. It saw a low in 1991, which put it at 11:43 – or 17 minutes before midnight. While that might not seem like a lot – it is when you consider how little the clock moves. Now, compare that with the fact that since the clock was established in 1947, it reached its peak in 1953 when it was set at 11:58 amid concerns about nuclear tests being conducted by the Soviet Union, as well as the United States.

Rosetta enjoying the company of Comet 67-P and Philae

However, much of this seems like dramatic overture when not compared with the growing warning signs about the host of issues facing those of us on Earth today. The group said thanks to carbon emissions, humans are “profoundly transforming earth’s climate,” and with regards to the relaxing efforts to reduce nuclear arms, the group says that those efforts have “found to a halt.”

It offers a stark outlook of what humans have created here on Earth and it really places a major set of responsibility on coming generations. While this is the darkest outlook that has been cast by any official group, it suggests the urgency with which people need to have as it relates to these problems. The group also mentioned and included IT security issues within their assessment. That is something that hasn’t ever happened before, so it speaks to the growing concern around these vast issues.