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Giant Meteorites Not on Your List of Concerns?
Then, think of this as a project to save the donkeys!

In fact, one could choose one's favourite cause and still think of this as a project to save it because, ultimately, that's what this science is all about—protecting everything below the ozone layer from something that is ...

More dangerous than a pretzel! The odds against the president choking on a pretzel have got to be considerably higher than those against our being struck by a meteorite. Ask any bookie.

The asteroid had a 1 in 4 chance of impacting earth. Art by Scott Alan"Shall We Call the President?” read one headline recently (see BBC story). Scientists were on the brink of calling the Oval Office in January to announce that, within the next day and a half, an incoming missile of multinuclear proportions had a 25 percent chance of striking Earth—a WMD from an unexpected quarter.

How does one share such literally Earth-shattering news?

“Mr. President, we feel it is our duty to inform you that there is a 1 in 4 chance that somewhere within 36 hours an extraterrestrial missile could strike our planet, resulting in an explosion bigger than anything mankind has ever seen, and there is nothing we can do about it.”

These facts were as real as a hurricane warning, bordering on the same odds.

What, then, was the president supposed to say?

“My fellow Americans and citizens of the world, within the next day and half, millions of you stand a 25 percent chance of being killed by an asteroid. Sadly, there is nothing we can do about it. With more warning, we may have been able to prevent it.”

Another intelligence break down—only this time the CIA couldn’t be implicated.

The biggest single threat to life until it passed, this news item was comparatively swept under the carpet. Why?

Some have speculated that scientists are doing the subject a disservice with announcements that an asteroid is going to hit Earth, and then later saying that they have miscalculated … that it was a near miss.

A bit like crying wolf, it has been pointed out.

The trouble with this kind of logic is that it forgets the end of the story: one day the wolf turns up!

Reported close encounters are logically WARNINGS!

There are wolves about, and some day one is going to invade the sheep pen. We should be posting more lookouts, not ignoring the facts.

What if those 1 in 4 odds had rolled against us (less than the odds on a dice cube). Wouldn’t survivors, as is so often the case, want to know why we hadn’t had forewarning? Boards and committees would no doubt be formed to investigate why the catastrophe hadn’t been anticipated.

The answer would be simple: because of a basic lack of funding—no conspiracy, no CIA plot, no geopolitically motivated policy. The simple fact is that no government is around long enough to use taxpayer money to hunt for future space rocks. This international concern is in the hands of a few badly strapped astronomers. Telescopes are being closed, not built. Perhaps this lack of foresight may cost, in the future, more than we can afford (as published in the Reflector magazine).

Once a FAIR member, why think further about threatening rocks in space? Joining FAIR will have helped the scientists, and there is little else we common folk can do. After all, no one can argue that we don't have enough immediate and ongoing concerns here on Earth to get on with.

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