Scientists behind the so-called Doomsday Clock, a metaphor for how close humanity is to destroying itself, released a rating Tuesday of the likelihood of world catastrophe and claimed the possibility is high.
The Doomsday Clock is at three minutes to midnight, with midnight being the end of the world as we know it, according to members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the highly-decorated group that update the clock.
The group currently includes 16 Nobel laureates and have updated the clock annually since 1947, when the Bulletin declared that it was seven minutes to midnight due the proliferation of nuclear weapons following the end of World War II.
The rating has fluctuated during the past 60 years, but this latest ranking did not show a change from 2015 despite nuclear talks between Iran and word powers as well as climate change agreements struck late last year in Paris.
The time, 2357GMT, is the closest the clock has come to midnight since 1983 at the apex of the Cold War.
In an adjoining statement, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists called the ranking an expression of dismay that world leaders continue to fail to focus their efforts and the world's attention on reducing the extreme danger posed by nuclear weapons and climate change.
While the Iranian discussions and Paris accords were deemed bright spots, scientists specifically pointed to conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, as well as Russias mounting tension with the U.S., Turkey and other NATO nations.
The group also bemoaned recent findings that 2015 was the warmest year ever in recorded history.
When we call these dangers existential, that is exactly what we mean, the scientists said.
They threaten the very existence of civilization and therefore should be the first order of business for leaders who care about their constituents and their countries.
The Doomsday Clock was set Tuesday at Stanford University in California at a ceremony attended by California governor Jerry Brown, former Secretary of State George Schultz and former Defence Secretary William Perry.