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The other day, I read about the 6th IAA Planetary Defense Conference in Washington, DC. It was one of several gatherings at which scientists get together and asked the question, “What could we do if it looked as if an asteroid was about to impact the earth?” It is, of course, an important querry because asteroids do in fact regularly impact the planet, and when they do, they do a hell of a lot of damage. That’s what we think killed off the dinosaurs.
At this particular conference, the attendees looked at various options. It turns out that we could save the world, and our selves, if we just put our minds to it. For example, we might be able to blast an asteroid into another orbit with a few placed explosions, and there are other ideas on the table as well.
Truth be told, I was comforted to know that people are at least thinking about this sort of problem, and considering options. Too often, it seems to me, we assume deadly perils won’t appear until they’re actually on our doorstep. Nice to think that maybe, for once, we’ll get a jump on things.
But, then, I read the comments on the article.
Most were supportive or thoughtful. But, some…were appalling. Several people wrote that the whole thing was a myth…a hoax…”like climate change”…and that the scientists involved were just using the whole idea to enrich themselves at the public’s expense.
And that was terrifying, because it brought home to me the fact that we could be staring extinction in the face…an apocalypse that we could avoid with only a tiny expenditure of money, energy, and will…and still do nothing. We might well perish, to the last man, woman, and child, because we (or at least an active minority of us) would regard the danger as a fraud, and the solution as “too expensive.”
Thus the reality of the Deplorable Age…
That the world will not end with a bang or a whimper…but rather with a snigger, and a sneer, and the all-too-confident assertion of a conspiracy theory…
Even as the sky burns, the seas boil, and the Horsemen ride…
In the dark, and the ash, and the deadly, killing cold.