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Belmont Club

The Heavens Themselves

February 15th, 2013 - 11:07 am

Just another day in the cosmos. A rock landed on Russia.

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Fortunately, the global elite are on the job preventing the next one. Buy your carbon credits now.

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Watts Up With That thinks this is a Sign From Heaven — in a statistical sense at least.

The likelihood in this century of an asteroid impact with 700 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima A-bomb: 30%.

Anthony Watts writes: “While politicians, their activist friends, and pundits caterwaul over a few tenths of a degree change in the global temperature over the last 100 years, with some Ehrlich-like nutballs even claiming it will cause extinction of humanity, today might be a good day to recognize a real extinction level challenge humanity faces.”

Studying asteroids and finding ways to survive their impacts may make objective sense, but is there money in it? Can it be turned into a crisis that Rahm Emmanuel won’t let go to waste?

Or should we continue to rely on the same old shield humanity has employed all the eons it has existed? Pure dumb luck? In our ancestor’s defense they had no alternative. Until this point in history humanity had neither the capability to detect the incoming pieces of debris which struck the planet nor had the remotest chance of deflecting it.

Rocks have always hit the earth. That has been going on for billions of years. What’s changed is that something can potentially be done to stop or evade them. We might at all events relocate part of humanity somewhere else. That too was our ancestor’s defense: never to put one’s eggs all in one basket. These possibilities create for us a difficulty our ancestors did not have: increasing capability presents choices. And that means problems.

It would be nice to go back to the Garden. Early man must have thought that the skies were unchanging. They appeared within the short span of a observer’s attention to be serene and eternal. Only by degrees did humanity begin to understand that he lived beneath a canopy of fire.

It was not until the dawn of the Atomic Age that man realized how hot those fires burned. For a brief moment we understood its significance and why we could not return unto the garden. An early 1950s science fiction movie captured the attitude of those times:

North Pole, Ned Scott reporting. One of the world’s greatest battles was fought and won by the human race. A handful of American soldiers and civilians… …met the first invasion from another planet. A man by the name of Noah once saved our world with an ark of wood. Here, a few men performed a similar service with an arc of electricity. A flying saucer, which landed here, and its pilot have been destroyed. But not without casualties among our own meager forces. I’d like to bring to the microphone the men responsible for our success. But Capt. Hendry is attending to demands over and above the call of duty. Dr. Carrington, leader of the scientific expedition… …is recovering from wounds from the battle. – Good for you. And now, before giving you the details of the battle, I bring you a warning. Every one of you listening to my voice… …tell the world. Tell this to everybody wherever they are: Watch the skies everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies.

Hollywood drama perhaps, but perceptive all the same. However it was a brief moment of clarity that could not last. After that first heady glimpse of humanity’s connection with the cosmos in the aftermath of that other near-death experience, World War 2, the politicians of the world lowered their gaze because that’s where the money was.

Rahm Emmanuel may run for President, as may Hillary or Janet Napolitano.  And they will busy grabbing everything that isn’t nailed down or waging war against “high powered magazines”. Their watchword is “who sent you?” The skies ain’t sent nobody we know.

It’s been forty years since man has walked on the moon. And Neil Armstrong, who passed away recently had these thoughts as he traversed the gulf between the worlds. “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small. ”

That is the perhaps opposite of what our current crop of leaders feel today. To them the heavens have become very, very small — shrunken almost to the size of the pea that Armstrong saw. There are no voters there. There mind is compassed by the vanities of society. There they live unmindful of the world outside.

When you’re out in smart society
And you suddenly get bad news,
You mustn’t show anxiety
And proceed to sing the blues. …

Have you heard that poor dear Blanche
Got run down by an avalanche?

Well, did you evah?
What a swell party this is!
Have you heard? It’s in the stars
Next July we collide with Mars.

Well did you evah?
Well I never!

What a swell party.
A swell party!
What an elegant, swell-egant party
This is!


The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

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