Doomsday clock at three minutes to midnight: scientists

A GROUP of scientists formed to predict how close humanity to annihilation has said that we are closer than ever before - warnings of the "truly terrible prospects" facing us.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was established in 1947, in the wake of the atomic bomb, to predict how close we are to catastrophe.

It uses a clock as a metaphor to show how much danger the world is in, moving it closer to midnight as the end becomes more likely.

The Bulletin said today that it was moving the clock to three minutes to midnight.

Global warming and nuclear accidents are the biggest risks to humanity, the panel that control the group said as they announced the change.

While the group downplayed the likelihood of the use of a nuclear weapon - despite military escalations in places like Crimea - storing the nuclear material for the weapons left the world liable to a devastating accident, the Bulletin said.

That's the closest to extinction that the world has been since 1987, during the Cold War.

After the Cold War ended it was gradually moved backwards - getting as safe as 17 minutes from midnight - but then moved back again as it became clear that nuclear arms were still a threat.

The closest it has ever been to midnight was between 1953 and 1959, during regular testing of nuclear warheads by the US and Russia.

Things got safer for a short while in the 60s, before the Cold War increased the threat. Things have been gradually getting worse since 1994.