How Successful Tradition Can Save More Than Two Birds

Asteroid belt in orbit around a star the same age and size as our Sun (Source: NASA).

Although Hollywood has created some colorful methods for stopping an object that is on a collision path with Earth, no government agency, national or international, has been tasked or accepted the responsibility to stop such an asteroid. NASA Near-Earth Object Program Office

Not So Great Dying from Change

The ending of America’s space-shuttle era gives us another opportunity to reflect on the danger of continuing with Barack Obama’s change. In this case, our neglect of tradition could once again let the natural world kill a great deal more than the proverbial two birds with one stone.

Scientists have already shown how an asteroid impact killed every dinosaur along with 50 percent of all species on Earth 65 million years ago. A cascade of natural events followed that resulted in acute climate change, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The scalding heat of the impact would have killed off life locally, and then dust kicked up into the atmosphere would have caused the skies to darken worldwide – halting photosynthesis and causing temperatures to drop. Animals that normally fed on plant life would have soon died of starvation. The predators, lacking their traditional prey, would have hunted each other until eventually dying out as well.

“Subsequent research has revealed that the dinosaur’s killer was not unique,” says Robert Zubrin in Entering Space. “Many, if not all, of the dozens of mass extinctions that define the successive ages of the Earth’s paleontological history were caused by asteroid impacts.”

NASA reports that one such asteroid impact led to a mass extinction that has come to be known as the “Great Dying.”

No class of life was spared from the devastation. Trees, plants, lizards, proto-mammals, insects, fish, mollusks, and microbes – all were nearly wiped out. Roughly 9 in 10 marine species and 7 in 10 land species vanished. Life on our planet almost came to an end.

Barack Obama plans to change from relying on humans to robotic exploration in space, beginning in five years with a mission to an asteroid to “help explain how life began.” But what seems more likely to effect safety & happiness is a guarantee that another Great Dying doesn’t occur with the next asteroid impact.

Spacefaring Civilization

“Somewhere out there, right now, there is an asteroid with your descendants’ names written on it,” Zubrin says, describing the certainty of more asteroids hitting Earth. He continues, “We are targets in a cosmic shooting gallery. Prudence dictates that we take steps to rectify this condition.”

#Grey2012 recommends that Congress reject more calls for dangerous change and instead support America’s successful tradition of human space exploration. Join me.

References

Robert Zubrin, Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization (New York: Putnam, 1999).

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