Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I returned home from a thoroughly enjoyable weekend in Grand Marais to find the top story
on AOL News to be that a giant asteroid is hurtling towards Earth and that the U.N. has been asked to intervene. According to the story, the asteroid has a 1 in 45,000 chance of colliding with Earth on April 13, 2036. That's a .002% chance, folks. I don't know about you, but I'm willing to take those odds. Instead what we'll do is spend a projected $300 million to form an "asteroid deflection mission".

Let's put this into some perspective. Current estimates put the total number of asteroids above 1 km in diameter in the solar system to be between 1.1 and 1.9 million. About 5,000 asteroids are discovered per month.

Well, shit. At $300 million per killer space rock diversion, that adds up to a pretty penny. But I'm being dramatic, as usual - the ones we're really worried about are Earth-crosser asteroids, not to be confused with Earth-crossing asteroids, and that of course is a much smaller subcategory.

I sure am glad we've moved on from all that global warming malarky in order to deal with the really important issues facing our planet today.

After all, the movie Armageddon about a giant deadly asteroid hurtling toward earth had a budget of $140 million. And Deep Impact, about a giant deadly comet hurtling toward earth had a budget of $75 million. Armageddon is the 121st top grossing film of all time at just over $200 million. I bet Al Gore won't see that much money in his whole life on An Inconvenient Truth. Sea levels rising? Bee-oh-arr-eye-en-gee. Ice melting? Animals moving around and dying? Heat waves? That can't compare to Morgan Freeman being president and Ben Affleck kicking some major asteroid ass, not to mention gettin' a nice piece of Liv Tyler's ass. And all we had to sacrifice was Bruce Willis.

I don't mean to be flip about killer rocks from outer space and the devastation they can potentially cause. I do think it's interesting, however, what people buy into on the movie screen and how closely it aligns with what shows up on the news, particularly when it equals fear. What's so "inconvenient" about An Inconvenient Truth is that every day people can do something in their regular lives to help this problem. Asteroids, on the other hand? Form the Aversion Team! Get Ben back up there! Want money? Take all you need, it's already being taken anyway, it's not going to make a difference to my bottom line. Buying expensive light bulbs, though? To hell with that.

I'd take 1 in 45,000 odds any day to see people take some fucking initiative to make sure people spend OUR money wisely.

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