What if a meteor hit the planet?
I know there have been several movies about this topic, but really, what if?
What would happen to the planet and everything on it? Immediately there would be a lot of destruction, but what about later? What are the longer term effects of such an impact? What would happen to the planet in the time afterwards?
I started to think more about this topic after it came up in a car ride a few weekends ago. I wondered if there were people calculating very morbid things like how long it would take for all life on Earth to die after a meteor strike, or how different sized meteors would impact the planet, things like that. I found this article and these other interesting sites: Earth Impact Effects Program; impacts calculator.
Usually it takes some relatively big event in my life for me to realize what my priorities in life should be. Maybe the meteor is that for us as a community. As a species, we only seem to be interested in persisting at least at current levels of quality of life and satisfaction. Any actions we take are in self-interest. That instinct has helped us survive and out-compete other species for thousands of years, but now, at this stage, individual actions in self-interest are starting to add up towards our demise as a species.
Some people have pointed out that, individual disastrous events, such as an extra powerful hurricane or tsunami or earthquake, affect far fewer people but attract much more attention and support than continuous, ongoing conflicts and suffering like never-ending violence and hunger.
Perhaps there is the collective sympathy for victims of spontaneous and unpredicted events because we believe we could be in those same situations at any time and hope that we would be met with similar support.
If a meteor or object were to hit the planet, I have no doubt the planet would continue to exist just as it has for millions of years, but I wonder about the possibilities.