[email protected]… Lembit Opik: We need a cosmic plan

Over at The Guardian, Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik returns to the subject whence he first came to public attention: the threat to the Earth of an asteroid impact. Here’s an excerpt:

The discovery of what appears to be a large crater caused by an asteroid impact on Jupiter provides a graphic illustration of the destructive potential of this type of cosmic event. Sixty-five million years ago, the reign of the dinosaurs was brought to a fiery end by a cataclysmic impact with a 10km-wide asteroid. It will happen again – we just don’t know when. However, for the first time in earth’s history, one species – the human race – can to do something about it. …

The haunting reality is that if we don’t invest what I estimate to be £120m to search for these objects, and up to £50bn to divert them, we face the very real possibility of going the same way as the dinosaurs. It’s sobering to think we could save the world from Armageddon for less than it cost to save RBS from bankruptcy. But at present, the political will simply isn’t there.

The Voice suspects this is one spending proposal that is destined for the Lib Dems’ ‘aspirational’ pile. Anyway, you can read the article in full HERE.

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  • “These kind of events happen over geological timescales.”

    Depends on their size. I don’t think we have any real estimate of the frequency of a Tunguska scale event as it wouldn’t leave much of a trace, none if they landed in the oceans. Those wouldn’t have been detected before the advent of widespread radar systems

  • Tom Papworth 23rd Jul '09 - 1:03pm


    I hate to sir up an argument, but I think it was a turbo-prop ;o)

    As for Lembit, I think he has no understanding of timescales and probablility. The planet-killing event he is talking about is so unlikely to happen in our lifetime that we would be serving our children better by saving the money and growing our economy so that if and when they decide to put a big anti-rock gun in space it’ll cost them the future equivalent of peanuts.

  • John Lefley 26th Jul '09 - 3:45pm

    There’s a case for spending a few ‘000 m £ spread world-wide via the UN on research – but as a one off and NOT at the expense of other much more immediate needs.
    Pushing this forward is up to you, Lembit – you have the contacts – but please don’t forget, dear friend, the HERE AND NOW!
    The Party needs you among its top spokesmen – the media loves you and you have that clear voice of reason.

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