May 31, 2008
SO I’M SITTING IN THE PLANETARY PROTECTION / Asteroid impact discussion, and it’s quite good. I also recommend this article by Gregg Easterbrook in the latest Atlantic and there’s a video too. I do think that Easterbrook is perhaps a bit hard on NASA for not paying enough attention to this issue. There’s not a huge political sentiment in favor of it, there’s not a lot of money. The panel certainly is making clear that NASA is paying attention to the topic.
One risk that’s worth more attention, though, is that a relatively small asteroid impact would look enough like a nuclear explosion that if it happened in the wrong place or time it might trigger a nuclear war. Imagine such an event in India or Pakistan at a time of tension, with no warning. And there might well be no warning.
UPDATE: Comments on Easterbrook, from Rand Simberg.