A Doomsday Clock indicating how close the world is to a global apocalypse has revealed we are seconds from catastrophe.
The clock, which is a symbol representing the likelihood of a man-made disaster, has been ticking since 1947 as members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists measure threats to humanity.
Midnight on the clock represents when a global apocalypse will be upon us and this year the time is stuck at a dangerous 100 seconds away, the closest it has ever been.
The Doomsday Clock illustrating the perils facing the planet and mankind first ticked to 100 seconds in 2020.
Experts say the fact the clock is stuck amid threats of the coronavirus pandemic, nuclear war and climate change should serve as a wake-up call.
"The hands of the Doomsday Clock remain at 100 seconds to midnight, as close to midnight as ever," Rachel Bronson, president of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said in a statement.
"The lethal and fear-inspiring Covid-19 pandemic serves as a historic 'wake-up call', a vivid illustration that national governments and international organisations are unprepared to manage the truly civilisation-ending threats of nuclear weapons and climate change.”
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says the coronavirus pandemic will end up killing more than two million people across the world.
Dr Asha M George, Science and Security board member at the Bulletin, also reiterated the pandemic revealed how unprepared and unwilling countries were to handle global emergencies properly.
“In this time of crisis, governments too often abdicated responsibility, ignored scientific advice, cooperated or communicated ineffectively, and consequently failed to protect the public health and welfare of their citizens,” she said.
When the clock was created in 1947, it was set at seven minutes to midnight.
The furthest it has ever been from midnight is 17 minutes, following the end of the Cold War in 1991.
Will the Doomsday Clock go back in time?
Former California Governor and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists executive chair, Jerry Brown, said the US, Russia and the world’s nuclear powers needed to stop shouting at each other.
“It’s time to eliminate nuclear weapons, not build more of them,” he said in the statement.
“Likewise, with climate change: The US, China and other big countries must get serious about cutting lethal carbon emissions – now. It’s 100 seconds to midnight. Wake up!”
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, co-chair of the World Health Organisation Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, said electing responsible leaders was crucial.
“Covid-19 is a terrible warning against complacency in the face of global threats to all human life,” she said.
“The past 12 months have served to reinforce the messages that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has been saying for decades: that it is only through collective action and responsible leadership that we can secure a peaceful and habitable planet for future generations.
“The new Presidency of Joe Biden has a chance to reassert US commitments to the values and institutions of multilateralism; there is no other way for humanity to overcome the dangers posed by pandemics, climate change and the risk of nuclear war.”
The Bulletin members recommended that the US and Russia extend the New START nuclear treaty and that the US return to the nuclear deal with Iran.
Former President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of Iran’s nuclear pact in 2018 and reimposed US sanctions that had been lifted under it, prompting Tehran to violate its conditions.
President Biden, who took office last week, has said the US will rejoin the pact if Tehran resumes strict compliance.
They also urged governments, technology giants and media organisations to cooperate on finding "practical and ethical ways to combat internet-enabled misinformation and disinformation”.