It came closest to midnight — just two minutes away — in 1953, following the successful test of a hydrogen bomb by the United States. It has been as far away as 17 minutes, set there in 1991 following the demise of the Soviet Union.
That would be the Doomsday Clock, maintained since 1947 by the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago, which has now been moved from 11:53 p.m. to 11:55 p.m. Only five minutes left until midnight. Just enough time to count to 300. The clock keepers have deemed this "the most perilous period since Hiroshima," citing "nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea, unsecured nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere and 25,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia, including 2,000 that are ready to launch."
But. And also.
The BotAS notes that environmental degradation due to global warming "poses a dire threat to human civilization that is second only to nuclear weapons."
So. Take your pick. Because I don't see Peace and Love and the End of Greed and Hate anywhere on the horizon tonight.
The Immaculate Order of the Falling Sky has not decided whether or not to make a formal statement on this latest advancement of the clock, but does point out that the Big Space Rock would be quite a bit less messy and more efficient, with the added plus that there would be no lingering thermonuclear fallout to muck things up for whatever species might survive into the coming Neozoic/Posthomozoic Era.
Bedtime for nixars...