© Andrea Danti | Dreamstime.com
From the We Don’t Have Enough on our Plates Dept. (not me! I worry about the global economy, my home’s value, fuel prices, food shortages, and racist, redneck voters just to name five of the topmost), comes this calmly frightening tale of the cataclysmic dangers we potentially face from asteroids.
Maybe Chicken Little Wasn’t Paranoid After All
Ideas & Trends | By ANDREW C. REVKIN | Published: July 6, 2008
THE Earth is pockmarked with the evidence of ancient collisions — huge craters blasted into its surface by asteroids or comets. One such object, striking 65 million years ago in the Yucatán in Mexico, is believed by some experts to be linked to the demise of the dinosaurs.
For a decade, NASA has been busy trying to identify what else is headed this way, particularly those potential “civilization killers” of 1 kilometer (.62 miles) or more in diameter that have orbits coming within 30 million miles of the Earth’s — too close for comfort by space standards.
But the big ones are, in many ways, the easy part. Smaller rocks matter, too. Perhaps nowhere is that so evident as in central Siberia, where 100 years ago last week, something — presumably a meteoroid, most experts say — streaked across the sky and exploded at an estimated height of 28,000 feet with a force equivalent to 185 Hiroshima bombs, leveling some 800 square miles of forest. Simulations by the Sandia National Laboratories showed that object could have been just 90 feet across.
Guess I’m glad that NASA is on the case. Their record is one spectacular success after another.
Concern about destruction from the cosmos seems to come in cycles. Two films were released around the same time some 10 years ago with this theme, Armageddon and Deep Impact. Their current efforts began at about the same time, so perhaps this is NASA’s way of securing further funding for their guard duties.
But it’s going to take more than polite stories in the NYTimes, eruditely observing the 100th anniversary of the Siberian event, to get the world to take this particular threat seriously. Maybe we need Bruce Willis to step in.
The world’s record on agreeing to meet any challenge is dismal. I predict that the United Nations will, by a bare majority, using all kinds of smoke-filled room elbow twisting to forestall Chinese and Russian vetoes, vote to fund an effort to deflect an oncoming asteroid of significant size (90 feet wide is all it might take to devastate most any settled region) mere hours after the next big one hits.
Right after they end the hand-wringing over Zimbabwe and Darfur and actually intervene in those troubled African regions in a useful way.
It’s it for now. Thanks,