meteor

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.

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4 Responses

  1. Nat says
  2. Rosemary Grant and the Galapagos finches | science before breakfast says

    [...] depleted in every way, then our human existence will be under threat (much like what I discussed in an earlier post). Conservation biologists are often mistaken as simply being animal-lovers and tree-huggers with [...]

  3. chewbear says

    There is also the population problem. We are closing in on carrying capacity if we have not passed it already. More technological advances will not be able to solve all the issues brought up by overpopulation.
    We really need to collectively realize what we are doing to ourselves and to the planet.

  4. Nat says

    Sometimes I wonder if a catastrophic event on the global level is what would be necessary to bring the human race together in a shared global awareness.

    It seems like the current global plan for achieving worldwide self-actualization is something like “gradually raise the standards of living through better technology until everyone’s needs are fulfilled,” but it seems to me that this wouldn’t really bring an end to conflicts based on desire for resource acquisition (a lot of which seems connected to a primal desire for dominance over opposing groups), not to mention religious conflicts.

    It seems like something needs to happen that takes the human race out of a view of dozens or hundreds of social groups that oppose each other, to one unified species acting towards a common good. Astronauts have said that they felt a very strong sense of this upon seeing the Earth from the Moon or space.

    The threat of a meteor or similar event impacting the whole world could, I think, bring us together in a similar way, and I think if we’re to advance as a race and unify in our goals (including our goals that involve maintaining and improving our environment), some event, whether potentially disastrous or simply compelling enough in technological promise or the sense of adventure, must occur.

    Also, I hope we get our rears in gear, ’cause as things stand we’re not prepared to deflect an asteroid impact at all.