The planet will move closer to an inevitable firey armageddon on Wednesday, when a group of atomic scientists move their "Doomsday clock" forward in response to the volatile international climate.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has operated the clock since 1947. The symbolic timepiece has been maintained at the University of Chicago and by way of reaction to events has been gradually moved forward towards midnight - the nuclear holocaust.
The time will read five minutes to apocalypse from tomorrow following North Korea's latest bout of attention-seeking, Iranian refusal to submit to nuclear inspections, and the ambient peril from extremists of all flavours. The apparent availablity of nuclear material in former Soviet states in exchange for a sack of spuds and victory in an arm wrestle doesn't help matters either. Nor does climate change, they reckon.
A statement from the organisation said:
The major new step reflects growing concerns about a "Second Nuclear Age" marked by grave threats, including: nuclear ambitions in Iran and North Korea, unsecured nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere, the continuing "launch-ready" status of 2,000 of the 25,000 nuclear weapons held by the U.S. and Russia, escalating terrorism, and new pressure from climate change for expanded civilian nuclear power that could increase proliferation risks.
The Doomsday clock currently stands at seven minutes to midnight, having been last nudged forward in 2002 when the US announced plans to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The clock homepage currently trails the announcement, but there's a handy history of humanity's march to oblivion over at Wikipedia here.
For our part, we don't need telling we're doomed; we're already plenty scared having seen birds flying backwards this morning and Terminator 3 on Channel Five at the weekend. ®
Our hairspray synthrock correspondent writes to request we point readers in the direction of a debate over the lyrics to Europe's soundtrack to armageddon The Final Countdown. Heavyweight analysis here.