If the Doomsday Clock is to be believed, the world is closer to destruction now than at any time since the device was created in 1947.


The clock may seem a hokey throwback to the fears of the Cold War, but it does serve to highlight the current threats to humankind and the planet — namely the possibility of nuclear war and the ongoing effects of climate change.


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the nonprofit group that sets the clock, recently moved it to its closest point to midnight — 100 seconds. The clock uses the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and a nuclear explosion (the countdown to zero) to convey the worldwide threats.


The group has moved the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight in three of the last four years, bringing it to two minutes before midnight in 2018.


The nuclear threats stem not only from the growing number of countries intent on developing such weapons, but from the lack of international efforts to put forth anything even close to arms control. Negotiations with North Korea have collapsed; the U.S. has pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal; the New Start Treaty that capped Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals expires next year.


In short, there seems little effort on the international stage to address the worldwide nuclear threats.


Likewise, climate change gets acknowledgement, but little action. The Bulletin notes that "Climate change that could devastate the planet is undeniably happening. And for a variety of reasons … democratic governments and other institutions that should be working to address these threats have failed to rise to the challenge."


Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said the combination of nuclear threats, climate change and government inaction push the world closer to doomsday than ever before.


"We now face a true emergency — an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that eliminated any margin for error or further delay."


The dire situation begs the question as to whether leaders will emerge nationally and internationally who can create global cooperation to address the issues. Time will tell … and the clock is ticking.


The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.