Originally created in 1947 by the scientists who were involved in the Manhattan Project, the Doomsday Clock was meant to monitor the likelihood of nuclear conflict.
Responding to a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow needs to strengthen its own nuclear force, Trump responded with a tweet: "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes".
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved their Doomsday Clock from three minutes to midnight, to two and a half minutes to midnight yesterday.
The clock is viewed as an indicator of the world's vulnerability to the apocalypse. They described the clock as representing "the urgency of the nuclear dangers".
It was the closest the clock had been to midnight since 1953, the year after the U.S. and the Soviet Union conducted competing tests of the hydrogen bomb. It was moved to 2 minutes to midnight.
During his election campaign Trump promised to back out of the Paris accord.The closer the minute hand is to midnight, the higher the chance of a global cataclysm, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the group that sets the time on the symbolic clock. Other reasons include the volatile relationship between the USA and Russian Federation and the "wavering public confidence in the democratic institutions required to deal with major world threats".
Each shift takes into account major threats to civilization, including climate change. But in an unusual move, it took aim at President Donald Trump's aggressive rhetoric on expanding United States weapons programs, including his desire to proliferate atomic weapons - just one of which can wipe out millions of people in a matter of seconds - to other countries.
As a primary reason for moving the clock foward this year, after leaving it at three minutes 'til midnight the last two years, the report cites newly elected President Donald Trump's "ill-considered" and "intemperate" statements about expanding the US nuclear arsenal, his comments encouraging other countries to acquire nuclear weapons, and his apparent skepticism of climate science.
The group does offer a hopeful note that since Trump has been President only a few days, without his Cabinet confirmed (which the group finds full of "questionable" nominations), they did only move the clock by less than a full minute, an unusual practice for them.
The group includes esteemed Professors who teach at Harvard, Stanford, Oxford and other top global Universities in a variety of fields, focusing on nuclear science, nuclear nonproliferation, worldwide politics, astrophysics, particle physics, public health, cyber policy, as well as climate and environmental studies.