Another Thing to Worry About

The earth certainly has its share of looming catastrophes. There’s climate change, water shortages, deforestation…and the list goes on. But last week, the press seemed to forget about all of our terrestrial threats in favor of, well, extraterrestrial ones. 

Hundreds of scientists convened last week at the Planetary Defense Conference in Washington, D.C. to figure out how to prevent asteroids from colliding with Earth.

And unsurprisingly, the press ate it up. Even the Guardian, that British bastion of now-don’t-get-your-panties-in-a-twist journalism, leads its story on the conference with what can only be described as asteroid porn:

A huge asteroid hurtles in from outer space to devastate the Earth, an unstoppable force of nature from which there is no escape. Just such a catastrophe is thought to have killed off the dinosaurs, and, according to most experts, it is only a matter of time before a similar fate befalls the human race.

Like, who’s got the Xanax, guys? This merry little passage is enough to send us all straight to therapy.

What’s worse, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, further asteroid research could get awfully pricey:

The cost to find at least 90 percent of the 20,000 potentially hazardous asteroids and comets by 2020 would be about $1 billion, according to a report NASA will release later this week. The report was previewed Monday at a Planetary Defense Conference in Washington.

Now we don’t mean to downplay the importance of anti-asteroid technology—if scientists can figure out a way to prevent the asteroid Apophis from hitting the planet in 2036, we at Plenty are all for it. But $1 billion is quite a chunk of change. And we can’t help but think that at least some of that money might be better spent on a more pressing earth-related problem (you know the one we’re talking about).  Or, alternately, a few stiff drinks to calm us down.


I'm all for chilling out, but if you think $1 billion is a lot of money, think about how much it would cost to replace San Francisco, London, or any other large urban area, not to mention recover from the effect on the global economy. Even a small asteroid could cause a catastrophe. This is one of those things for which "don't worry, be happy" is not appropriate.

I bet we spend more than $1 billion on suntanning salons per year.

How much are we spending in Iraq ostensible to save lives?
How many lives have we saved?
Is Nero fiddling while the earth is about to burn or collide with an asteroid.
Actually a collision with Apophis might bring about an ice age.
We could start over again!