2007-03-22 / Sam Bari

Is risking extinction a bad thing?

You can't beat a system you can't understand
By Sam Bari

Writing about this system that we can't understand isn't always an easy task, but it never lacks for subject matter. If I can write five to ten minutes worth of amusing or at least mildly entertaining bathroom reading, then I've had a good day.

However, today's topic is probably neither amusing nor entertaining because it is about world leaders who toy with our lives and mess with our heads with impunity, and still expect to have credibility at our expense.

I'm sure everyone has either read or heard about the "Killer Asteroid Tracking Project Faces Hurdles" article in the New York Times. It said that "NASA can find and track most of the nearby asteroids that could hit and damage the Earth, but there is not enough money in its budget to finish the project within a 15-year deadline mandated by Congress, according to an agency report."

The report said "there were about 20,000 asteroids and comets orbiting relatively close to our planet that could deliver blows ranging from destroying cities to ending all life." Hmmm . . . sounds serious to me. I'd say that is rather significant.

Apparently, NASA runs a program called the Spaceguard Survey that tracks the largest potentially hazardous objects, those greater than 3,300 feet in diameter that could devastate most life if they hit. That is what scientists believe happened to the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. This program, using ground-based observatories, is budgeted at $4.1 million a year through 2012. The problem is that such an undertaking would cost more than $1 billion that the agency does not have.

The article, along with related articles went on to say that although scientists don't know exactly how they would handle the situation if a collision course with an asteroid were imminent, but they would probably attempt to either destroy it or divert its course. That would be nice, because if they don't, life as we know it would no longer exist at worst, or a large city could be destroyed in the blink of an eye at best.

Do they actually expect us to believe that they are going to allow us to die because they can't come up with two-hundred million a year for five years? This same group just spent $1.7 trillion to date on a war that many feel is questionable at best. This altercation is currently costing $4.8 billion a month, and the authorities are having difficulty reporting any progress.

Hey - just in case they forgot, there are nine billion people on this planet. I think we should be able to come up with the money if everybody contributes a few cents. Here's my dollar. Never let it be said that I was unwilling to do my part.

Call me unimaginative, but I am having difficulty believing that our congressmen are sitting around in their wood-paneled offices saying to their secretaries, "Let's see, should we continue the war or save the earth from extinction? Wow - that's a tough one. If we stop the war, everybody with stock in defense companies will lose money. That's most of us. Not good. However, if we don't save the world, we won't be around to spend it. That's not good either. I guess it comes down to, do we want to be alive and live like paupers, or do we just want to party it up until we get annihilated? That's why this job is so hard - we gotta make the big decisions."

I do not believe this is happening for so much as a heartbeat. They are probably saying: "Save the world? What an opportunity. That's fabulous. Bring in some experts and let's figure out how we can make some money from this little problem, and save our dying political careers at the same time."

When they say "bring in some experts," they're not talking about rocket scientists from NASA; they're talking about political strategists. They'll feed NASA the money from some obscure account and make sure they're ready to send the rockets when the time is right. Then they'll tax everybody with a job so they can replace the funds and hope the earth needs to be saved just before election time.

I have no idea if the scenario I just described is anywhere close to the truth. However, I do not believe that our world leaders are going to stand by and allow the earth to be destroyed without taking appropriate action. Why they handle situations like this the way they do is why I can write about a system that we just can't understand.

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