Over the past three years, the hands of the "Doomsday Clock," a symbolic clock that represents a countdown to a potential global catastrophe, have been set at 5 minutes before midnight.
The closer the clock's hands are to midnight, the closer humanity is to a possible civilization-ending disaster. The minute hand of the clock was last adjusted in January 2012 when it was moved one minute closer to midnight and has since stayed there for the last three years.
At the time, there were concerns of a nuclear meltdown in Fukushima's power plant in Japan and the creation of an airborne strain of the H5N1 flu virus.
The minute hand of the clock, however could again edge closer to midnight as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS), which assesses threats to humanity, is hosting an international news conference in Washington, D.C on Thursday to announce its decision on the clock's minute hand. The BAS pays particular attention to threats posed by nuclear war and climate change to decide whether adjustments to the Doomsday Clock need to be made.
Among the topics that will be discussed at this event include terrorism, nuclear modernization and accelerating climate change. What makes the anticipated announcement particularly interesting is that the BAS has said that it will have a major announcement in 2015 which could mean that the decision to move the minute hand of the clock may be related to some trends.
Predictions for this year may take into account bioweapons, a world war and an asteroid impact. Artificial virus technology that was developed for medical uses could be used for creating a viral biological weapon similar to the horrors depicted in works of fiction. An asteroid impact on Earth in 2015 has NASA concerned.
Fears for a World War 3 may also cause the clock's minute hand to move forward. Financial experts think that the next world war is looming because of economic reasons and which could possibly be triggered over Vladimir Putin's claim of the Arctic oil since global oil reserves may run out by the year 2060.
While World War 3 may not necessarily be a nuclear war, it is worth noting that Russia's nuclear weapons have already surpassed the number of U.S. warheads. It is also probable that the board will focus on the politics of climate change particularly because of concerns over an accelerating global warming.