By now, we’ve all seen our fair share of science-fiction movies involving asteroids striking Earth and destroying our way of life as we know it. Though the amount of asteroids headed toward our planet is at a historical low, the threat of an extinction-level impact is never outside the realm of possibility, according to Science Alert. But the threat of natural disaster is only one problem that we need to consider if Earth were to be bombarded by asteroids, as we have to consider the various ways humanity will address the looming threat of an asteroid impact on a geopolitical level.
Why Size Matters
Though not all asteroids are created equal, we need to be wary of those that are 500 meters in diameter or larger. The amount of damage that asteroids boasting this size can cause could turn the world into a post-apocalyptic wasteland in which every man, woman, and child would have to fend for themselves. What’s more, the ensuing chaos could potentially cause governments to collapse if we don’t have a suitable action-plan in place.
Addressing Geopolitical Consequences
These issues were addressed at the 2023 Planetary Defense Conference (PDC), in which politicians and scientists alike spelled out how adversely asteroids could affect life on Earth if diplomats fail to do their due diligence in the wake of an imminent asteroid impact.
The conference resulted in a paper entitled Diplomatic, geopolitical and economic consequences of an impending asteroid threat, which was published in Acta Astronautica. The paper highlights how world leaders could quell the chaos that an asteroid impact could thrust upon society, and ensure that we don’t get blasted back to the stone age in a geopolitical sense.
Firestorms, Tsunamis, And Other Threats
Though it may seem like world leaders are panicking for no reason, the paper acknowledges that asteroids of this magnitude striking Earth aren’t a common occurrence. But it’s good to be prepared, because if a 500-meter diameter asteroid were to strike Earth, it would create a crater nine kilometers across, and nearly one kilometer deep. The resulting ejecta from such an impact would propel an immense amount of heat into our atmosphere, which would then rain down on Earth and cause firestorms.
Conversely, if asteroids this size were to strike the ocean, we’d face the threat of massive tsunamis that have the potential to level cities, and with that, any governing bodies that are local to the impact.
Massive Asteroid Predicted To Crash Into Earth
The Planetary Defense Conference came to be after the discovery of a 500-meter asteroid that is heading for Earth. Though no other asteroids are currently posing a threat, scientists predict that this asteroid, named 2023 PDC, may very well breach our atmosphere and strike Earth in October 2036, meaning that we have 12.5 years to prepare for the worst.
Damage to our cities’ infrastructures notwithstanding, the conference highlighted the social aspects that need to be considered if our way of life were to be compromised by asteroids.
How World Leaders Are Preparing
World leaders considered a number of societal issues that need to be addressed, including, but not limited to: evacuations, creating a safe-haven for refugees, geopolitical power struggles, and using nuclear explosive devices as a means to eliminate the threat of asteroids. In other words, not only are world leaders considering how to detect and deflect asteroids, they also want to make sure that some semblance of peace is maintained on Earth if we can’t avoid being struck.
At the end of the day, worrying about asteroids the size of Texas like in the movie Armageddon is a waste of energy. But even though we’re dealing with what experts believe to be a low-probability event in the grand scheme of things, it’s always a good idea to be prepared.