Doomsday Clock Holds Steady at Five to Midnight

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The hands of the infamous "Doomsday Clock" symbolizing humans' destruction will remain firmly in place at five minutes to midnight in 2013, scientists said Monday.

Doomsday Clock Moved

While originally enacted as an emblem of danger nuclear weapons pose to humankind, the worries of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists are manifold.

The clock is a symbol of the threat of humanity's imminent destruction from nuclear or biological weapons, climate change and other human-caused disasters.

After announcing their outlook for the future of humanity remains quite dim, the group of scientists also wrote an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama.

"2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States, marked by devastating drought and brutal storms," the letter says.

"These extreme events are exactly what climate models predict for an atmosphere laden with greenhouse gases."

At the same time, the letter did give a nod to some progress, applauding the president for taking steps to "nudge the country along a more rational energy path."

"We have as much hope for Obama's second term in office as we did in 2010, when we moved back the hand of the Clock after his first year in office," the group said.

"This is the year for U.S. leadership in slowing climate change and setting a path toward a world without nuclear weapons."

The Doomsday Clock came into being in 1947. By 1949, it was at three minutes to midnight as the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union deteriorated.

In 1953, after the first test of the hydrogen bomb, the doomsday clock ticked to two minutes until midnight, the closest to global annihilation we've seen.

The Bulletin was at its most optimistic in 1991, when the Cold War thawed and the United States and Russia began cutting their arsenals.

That year, the clock was set at a whole 17 minutes to midnight. In 2012, it was moved back from 11:54 to 11:55; this year it will hold steady at five 'til.