It’s easy to dismiss asteroid impacts as something so unlikely to happen that the risk is negligible and can be safely ignored.
Not only is that completely wrong but asteroids pose a real threat that is significantly higher than most people expect. A single asteroid impact could wipe out the entire species – we have no backup plan right now. In economic terms that is the destruction of the $80 trillion global economy, in population terms that’s the death of 7 billion people.
With such unimaginable costs surely there’s a plan. NO, there is no plan.
Surely there is at least some warning systems in place. NO, there are no warning systems.
We must be able to track all the threats then. NO, we track less than 1% of asteroids below 100m in size.
Between 2000 and 2013 the nuclear testing detection service run by the USA registered 26 asteroid impacts between 1 and 600 kilotons. For comparison the bomb on Hiroshima was 45kilotons.
The last most recent significant asteroid explosion was one in Russia that was widely reported just last year. That asteroid was estimated to be just 17m across.
One day, there will be a catastrophe.
What should we be doing? We should be funding asteroid tracking programs, there should be a plan to divert asteroids on a collision course, and we should have a timeline for establishing permanent settlements off this planet.