Only two and a half minutes to midnight - the newly updated time the world will end and humankind with it. Or at least, this is what is stated by the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic clock that represents the countdown to the end of the world. The closer it gets to midnight, the more we are at risk of catastrophe.

What does the shift of the Doomsday Clock hand mean?

Designed in 1947 by the independent, non-profit organisation Scientists Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists of the University of Chicago, the Doomsday Clock was symbolically created to show the risk of a fatal atomic war; now, it says when we are generally near to any life threatening disaster.

Since the Doomsday Clock was invented, the clock has been moved 21 times. The clock nearest to midnight was in 1953 (2 minutes), when Russia detonated its first atomic bomb, triggering fears across the world; this new clock update is the second closest to oblivion since 1947.

Why the life expectancy of humanity is shorter

The recent shortening of minutes is primarily due to the recent election of Donald trump, especially because of his stance on climate change, to the almost uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons in recent years (in India, Pakistan, Russia and China), and to the entry of new holders of nuclear weapons (North Korea and maybe Iran). All these reasons convinced Lawrence Krauss and David Titley, the scientists who lead the organisation, to move the clock hands.

In addition, other "minor" causes contribute to the new update: rising nationalism, the international arms race and the decreased confidence in science and progress.

Trump: the most serious threat in 60 years?

Although Trump officially took office less than two weeks ago, Trump remains the greatest threat, according to the organisation's members.

In the report released by the organisation, the President of the United States is the most cited danger. “Never before has the Bulletin decided to advance the clock largely because of the statements of a single person,” wrote the two scientists on the document. In their opinion, other threats - already quite worrying - were worsened by the Trump’s appearance.

“These are all times in which President Trump has signalled that he would make matters worse, either because of a mistaken belief that the threats posed by nuclear weapons and climate can be ignored or that the words of a president of the United States do not matter to the rest of the world,” the two scientists wrote in the New York Times.

it is a rather disturbing prospect if you think that Donald Trump will be at the White House for (at least) another four years. Therefore, according to the Doomsday Clock, its 70th birthday will probably be one of the last that we will be able to celebrate. We must hope that the two scientists be incredibly pessimistic or, at least, that the clock is broken.