Brownfield 4 (Roger, Gaishiled Project, “A Million Miles a Day”, Presentation at the Planetary Defense Conference: Protecting Earth From Asteroids, 2-26, http://www.aiaa.org/content.cfm?pageid=406&gTable= Paper&g ID=17092//cc)
Once upon a time there was a Big Bang... Cause/Effect - Cause/Effect -Cause/Effect and fifteen billion years later we have this chunk of cosmos weighing in at a couple trillion tons, screaming around our solar system, somewhere, hair on fire at a million miles a day, on course to the subjective center of the universe. Left to its own fate -- on impact -- this Rock would release the kinetic energy equivalent of one Hiroshima bomb for every man, woman and child on the planet. Game Over... No Joy... Restart Darwin's clock… again. No happy ever after. There is simply no empirical logic or rational argument that this could not be the next asteroid to strike Earth or that the next impact event could not happen tomorrow. And as things stand we can only imagine a handful of dubious undeveloped and untested possibilities to defend ourselves with. There is nothing we have actually prepared to do in response to this event. From an empirical analysis of the dynamics and geometry of our solar system we have come to understand that the prospect of an Earth/asteroid collision is a primal and ongoing process: a solar systemic status quo that is unlikely to change in the lifetime of our species. And that the distribution of these impact events iscompletely aperiodic and random both their occasion and magnitude. From abstracted averaged relative frequency estimates we can project that over the course of the next 500 million years in the life of Earth we will be struck by approximately 100,000 asteroids that will warrant our consideration. Most will be relatively small, 100 to 1,000 meters in diameter, millions of tons: only major city to nation killers. 1,000 or so will be over 1,000 meters, billions of tons and large enough to do catastrophic and potentially irrecoverable damage to the entire planet: call them global civilization killers. Of those, 10 will be over 10,000 meters, trillions of tons and on impact massive enough to bring our species to extinction. All these asteroids are out there, orbiting the sun... now. Nothing more needs to happen for them to go on to eventually strike Earth. As individual and discrete impact events they are all, already, events in progress. By any definition this is an existential threat. Fortunately, our current technological potential has evolved to a point that if we choose to do so we can deflect all these impact events. Given a correspondingly evolved political will, we can effectively manage this threat to the survival of our species. But since these events are aperiodic and random we can not simply trust that any enlightened political consensus will someday develop spontaneously before we are faced with responding to this reality. If wewould expect to deflect the nextimpact event a deliberate, rational punctuated equilibrium of oursociopolitical will is required now. The averaged relative frequency analysis described above or any derived random-chance statistical probabilistic assessment, in itself, would be strategically meaningless and irrelevant (just how many extinction level events can we afford?). However, they can be indirectly constructive in illuminating the existential and perpetual nature of the threat. Given that the most critically relevant strategic increment can be narrowly defined as the next “evergreen” 100 years, it would follow that the strategic expression of the existent risk of asteroid impact in its most likely rational postulate would be for one and only one large asteroid to be on course to strike Earth in the next 100 years... If we do eventually choose to respond to this threat, clearly there is no way we can address the dynamics or geometry of the Solar System so there is no systemic objective we can respond to here. We can not address 'The Threat of Asteroid Impact' as such. We can only respond to this threat as these objects present themselves as discrete impending impactors: one Rock at a time. This leaves us the only aspect of this threat we can respond to - a rationally manifest first-order and evergreen tactical definition of this threat Which unfortunately, as a product of random-chance, includes the prospect for our extinction. Asteroid impact is a randomly occurring existential condition. Therefore the next large asteroid impact event is inevitable and expectable, and that inevitable expectability begins... now. The Probability is Low: As a risk assessment: “The probability for large asteroid impact in the next century is low”... is irrelevant. Say the daily random-chance probability for large asteroid impact is one in a billion. And because in any given increment of time the chance that an impact will not happen is far greater than it will, the chance that it will happen can be characterized as low. However, if we look out the window and see a large asteroid 10 seconds away from impact the daily random-chance probability for large asteroid impact will still be one in a billion... and we must therefore still characterize the chance of impact as low... When the characterization of the probability can be seen to be tested to be in contradiction with the manifest empirical fact of the assessed event it then must also then be seen to be empirically false. Worse: true only in the abstract and as such, misleading. If we are going to respondto these events, when it counts the most, this method of assessment will not be relevant. If information can be seen to be irrelevant ex post it must also be seen to be irrelevant ex ante. This assessment is meaningless. Consider the current threat of the asteroid Apophis. With its discovery we abandon the average relative frequency derived annual random-chance probability for a rational conditional-empiric probabilistic threat assessment derived from observing its speed, vector and position relative to Earth. The collective result is expressed in probabilistic terms due only to our inability to meter these characteristics accurately enough to be precise to the point of potential impact. As Apophis approaches this point the observations and resulting metrics become increasingly accurate and the conditional-empiric probability will process to resolve into a certainty of either zero or one. Whereas the random-chance probability is unaffected by whether Apophis strikes Earth or not. These two probabilistic perceptions are inherently incompatible and unique, discrete and nonconstructive to each other. The only thing these two methodologies have in common is a nomenclature: probability/likelihood/chance, which has unfortunately served only to obfuscate their semantic value making one seem rational and relevant when it can never be so. However, merely because they are non rational does not make averaged relative frequency derived random-chance probabilities worthless. They do have some psychological merit and enable some intuitive 'old lady' wisdom. When we consider the occasion of some unpredictable event that may cause us harm and there is nothing tangible we can do to deflect or forestall or stop it from happening, we still want to know just how much we should worry about it. We need to quantify chance not only in in case we can prepare or safeguard or insure against potentially recoverable consequences after the fact, but to also meter how much hope we should invest against the occasion of such events. Hope mitigates fear. And when there is nothing else we can do about it only then is it wise to mitigate fear... “The probability for large asteroid impact in the next century is low” does serve that purpose. It is a metric for hope. Fifty years ago, before we began to master space and tangibly responding this threat of asteroid impact became a real course of action, hope was all we could do. Today we can do much more. Today we can hold our hope for when the time comes to successfully deflect. And then, after we have done everything we can possibly do to deflect it, there will still be of room for hope... and good luck. Until then, when anyone says that the probability for large asteroid impact or Extinction by NEO is low they are offering nothing more than a metric for hope -- not rational information constructive to metering a response or making a decision to do so or not. Here, the probability is in service to illusion... slight-of-mind... and is nothing more than comfort-food-for-thought. We still need such probabilistic comfort-food-for-thought for things like Rogue Black Holes and Gamma Bursts where we are still imaginably defenseless. But if we expect to punctuate the political equilibrium and develop the capability to effectively respond to the existential threat of asteroid impact, we must allow a rational and warranted fear of extinction by asteroid impact to drive a rational and warranted response to this threat forward. Forward into the hands and minds of those who have the aptitude and training and experience in using fear to handle fearful things. Fear focuses the mind... Fear reminds us that there are dire negative consequences if we fail. If we are going to concern ourselves with mounting a response and deflecting these objects and no longer tolerate and suffer this threat, would it not be far more relevant to know in which century the probability for large asteroid impact was high and far more effective to orient our thinking from when it will not to when it will occur? Butthis probabilistic perspective can not even pretend to approach providing us with that kind of information. As such, it can never be strategically relevant: contribute to the conduct of implementing a response. The same can be said when such abstract reasoning is used to forward the notion that the next asteroid to strike Earth will likely be small... This leads us to little more than a hope based Planetary Defense. If we are ever to respond to this threat well then we must begin thinking about this threat better.Large Asteroid Impacts Are Random Events. Expect the next one to occur at any time. Strategically speaking, this means being at DefCon 3: lock-cocked and ready to rock, prepared to defend the planet and mankind from the worst case scenario, 24/7/52... forever.Doing anything less by design, would be like planning to bring a knife to a gunfight. If we expect our technological abilities to develop and continue to shape our nascent and still politically tacit will to respond to this threat: if we are to build an effective Planetary Defense, we must abandon the debilitating sophistry of “The probability for large asteroid impact in the next century is low” in favor of rational random inevitable expectation... and its attendant fear.