An international detection mechanism for near-earth objects



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Monzon, 8-4-2019 – Inigo, citing Neil deGrasse Tyson, “Expert Warns Massive Tsunamis After Deadly Apophis Asteroid Strike On Earth,” International Business Times, https://www.ibtimes.com/expert-warns-massive-tsunamis-after-deadly-apophis-asteroid-strike-earth-2810727
Famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson issued a serious warning regarding the effects of a deadly asteroid strike on Earth. Aside from the impact, another destructive effect of an asteroid strike would be the massive tsunamis it will trigger.
Back in 2004, astronomers detected an asteroid known as Apophis 99942. After studying the asteroid’s trajectory, they predicted that the 370-meter-wide space rock had a slight chance of colliding with Earth in 2029.
Following a series of studies, astronomers ruled out the possibility of an asteroid impact in 2029. Instead, they noted that Apophis 99942 could hit Earth sometime in 2036 or 2068. According to the astronomers, the possibility of an impact would depend on keyholes in space, which are regions that are heavily affected by the gravitational pull of nearby planets.
If the asteroid passes through a keyhole, the gravitational force could alter its trajectory and nudge it into a direct collision course with Earth.
During a previous public lecture at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco, California, Tyson discussed Apophis 99942’s potential to hit Earth in the future. According to the astrophysicist, if the asteroid goes through a gravitational keyhole, there’s a chance it could hit Earth and crash in an area near Los Angeles.
We know it won’t hit Earth, we know it will be closer than the orbiting satellites,” he said during the lecture. “But there is a 600-mile zone – we call it the keyhole – and if the asteroid goes through the middle of that it will hit Earth 13 years later.”
“It will hit 500 miles west of Santa Monica,” he added.
Given the size of the asteroid, the direct hit will most likely be equivalent to several atomic bombs going off at the same time. However, aside from the impact, Tyson noted that the asteroid strike could create a massive tsunami that’s capable of wiping out a huge region.
If it goes through the center, it will plunge down into the Pacific Ocean to a depth of three miles, at which point it explodes, caveating the Pacific in a hole that’s three miles wide,” he said.
That will send a tsunami wave outwards from that location that is 50 feet high.”
Tyson noted that there will be more than one tsunami if the asteroid crashes on Earth. After the first giant wave, it will be followed by a second one that will be caused by the collapse of the massive crater made by the asteroid in the Pacific Ocean.
The astrophysicist predicted that the tsunamis would level the entire west coast of North America.

Debaters are psychologically predisposed to discount the risk of asteroids due to their infrequency---apathy and purely affective responses are ill-suited for dealing with the threat of NEOs---the aff’s analytic descriptions of catastrophic risk are beneficial for generating impetus for crafting worthwhile responses


Paul Slovic, November 06, (Paul Slovic is a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and the president of Decision Research. Decision Research is a collection of scientists from all over the nation and in other countries that study decision-making in times when risks are involved, “Perception of Risk from Asteroid Impact”, Comet/Asteroid Impacts and Human Society: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Chapter 22, pg 380-381)
Throughout the past century, in a world beset by all manner of hazards and catastrophes, destructive natural hazards have elicited far less concern than risks created by humans, such as nuclear power, chemicals, biotechnology, war and terrorism. Even the serious threat posed by global climate changes has received scant attention. After a major natural disaster, concern rises but eventually returns to its prior apathetic state. The psychological processes described in this paper indicate why it will be hard to generate concern about asteroids unless there is an identifiable, certain, imminent, dreadful threat. Understanding perception of risk from asteroid impact can serve two objectives. One is to provide guidance to risk-communication and crisis-response efforts prior to or after a serious impact. Realistically, I doubt that any meaningful sustained progress can be made towards this objective in the absence of a credible, imminent threat. Even the threat of terrorism, which has led, in many ways, to exaggerated protective actions in the United States, has failed to stimulate any meaningful program on risk communication – witness the inane color-coding scheme created to represent threat levels. A more achievable, yet still challenging, objective for research and education programs is to create a realistic appreciation for the risk of asteroid impact so that decisions are made by evaluating the risks by analysis and not just by feelings. Posner (2004), for example, uses cost/benefit analysis to cut through psychological barriers to action against rare catastrophes. He concludes that the probable costs of catastrophic risks such as those posed by asteroids, when compared with the probable costs of efforts to minimize such risks, indicate that greater investment in asteroid detection and impact prevention would be justified. Bringing the right mix of analytic and experiential thinking to bear upon decisions about asteroid risks will require a collaborative research effort between astronomers and social scientists. I believe this volume has taken an important first step toward creating the foundation for this effort. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. SES-0241313. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

There is no root cause of asteroids, but the fallout from impacts neatly follow existing patterns of socioeconomic vulnerability---elimination of NEO threats is key to prevent the magnification of inequalities across multiple domains


Kenneth Hewitt, November 06, (Cold Regions Research Center and Department of Geography and Environmental Studies Wilfrid Laurier University, “Social Perspectives on Comet/Asteroid Impact (CAI) Hazards: Technocratic Authority and the Geography of Social Vulnerability”, Comet/Asteroid Impacts and Human Society: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Chapter 24, pg 400-402)
**CAI = Comet/Asteroid Impact**
The position taken here is that calling something a risk, indeed a hazard, is a social construct and necessarily engages social issues. Risks are ‘social’ firstly because they involve conditions that vary greatly within and between societies, and according to a range of material, institutional, political and cultural conditions. Secondly, social risk is not just a function of exposure to a dangerous agent. Major consequences in all known modern disasters derive from or involve the social order and human activities. The latter affect endangerment in ways that go well beyond, and differ in character and genesis from, whatever can be learned about, say, hurricanes, or weapons of mass destruction. Thirdly, the preoccupations and preferences that enter into assessments of a danger are themselves socially constrained. They differ widely in different constituencies. Economic, technological, cultural, and governmental or ethical concerns, not only affect how a society will respond but what we need to know about a hazard for risk assessment and disaster preparedness. A social perspective begins on the ground in human settlements, rather than in the lithosphere, atmosphere or space. It gives priority to the places and predicaments where destructive impacts may occur, rather than where hazardous phenomena originate and their overall extent. In the Earth environment and experience to date, a majority of potentially destructive natural events do little or no harm. Most of the geophysical cycle and space over which potentially destructive forces operate lie outside where the disaster itself occurs. This applies in earthquake and volcanic eruption, hurricanes, blizzards and tornadoes, river floods and tsunami, catastrophic landslides and avalanches, forest fires and insect infestations. There is a quite weak relationship between any measures of the size or intensity of these hazards, and the scales, let alone forms, of disaster (Hewitt 1997). The empirical basis for these assertions comes mainly from distributions of loss in recent disasters. In them, the forms and intensities of damage reflect and reveal patterns of pre-existing social vulnerability more than any other risk variables. This applies to the worst of examples of ‘man-made’ disasters such as Chernobyl or Bhopal, and the most costly natural disasters such as the earthquakes at Mexico City in 1985, Kobe, 1995 or Izmit, Turkey, 1999; hurricanes “Andrew” in Florida, 1992, or “Mitch” in Central America, 1998. In each case, who lived and died, how people died or were injured, their material losses turned overwhelmingly on their social status and influence.2 In turn, these were critical for available or absent protections (Hewitt 1997; Enarson and Morrow 1998; Steinberg 2000; Dauphine 2001; Shaw and Goda 2004). The primary social elements of public safety involve people’s exposure to given threats, the vulnerability of their bodies, homes and livelihoods, and their response capacities. In modern societies, the provision of organized protections has assumed overwhelming importance in relation to all of these, as well as hazard mitigation and disaster response. While each element is important and needs careful study, they ultimately contribute to and define degrees of social vulnerability. ‘Degrees’ are emphasized because vulnerability is significant less in terms of abstract or absolute safety, than the huge variations within and between societies. The variations are context, and society-specific. They can change dramatically over time. This is also a way to express civil security from the perspective of its weakest or more insecure areas (Bohle 1993: Blaikie et al. 1994). It reflects each person’s and group’s place in their own society, each community and region’s influence in their own country, and in relation or comparison to the wider world (Burton et al. 1978; Sen 1981; Kreps 1989; Alabala-Bertrand 1993). It is a common place that large differences in personal vulnerability apply to traffic accidents, cancers, heart or occupational disease, as a function of age, gender, occupation, ethnicity, wealth or life-style. Yet, such social ‘discrimination’ in risk or harm is not confined to chronic biological, ‘consumer’ and life-style hazards. The widely accepted separation of natural disasters as a class of ‘indiscriminate’ events or accidental ‘bolts-from-the blue’ is a social fiction. Their damages tend to be highly discriminating usually, though not always, favoring the wealthier and more influential groups, and harming the already disadvantaged. However, vulnerability is not a passive or inevitable condition awaiting an impact. Such ideas are just another carry over from the view of disasters as ‘Acts of God’ or accidents in which death or survival are matters of luck. Rather, society intervenes in fundamental ways to influence or construct exposure to hazards and peoples’ capacities to respond, as well as in the provision or absence of social protections. Moreover, while our focus may be on hazards and disaster, for the most part security or endangerment arise indirectly within political and economic systems. The social and economic conditions governing land use, housing, employment, education and health services, access to information and so forth, largely allocate degrees of vulnerability to each type of hazard. For such reasons, social scientists and humanitarian agencies see the space of risk as rooted in social values, a social responsibility maintained, or changed for better or worse, by the social order. Social conditions are an integral part of endangerment rather than, as in so many geophysical analyses, entirely secondary and essentially dependent upon understanding, predicting and responding to floods, volcanic eruptions or industrial explosions. Thus we have to ask not just how large or how frequent dangerous forces are, but how they enter into social systems, their relations to the habitat and capacities to respond. Effective public security measures certainly depend upon understanding the nature and incidence of hazardous processes. Communities where such knowledge is poor, neglected or forgotten, are uniquely vulnerable. In each case, however, such knowledge is seen through the lens of on-going material and cultural life, its deployment depending upon the values, expectations and experience of responsible persons and institutions. Meanwhile, a particular hazard or risk is unlikely to be dealt with in isolation. It will be treated in relation to the range of dangers, concerns and priorities of a society or, at least, of the institutions and groups who dominate its policies. With such concerns in mind, we can now return to the question of evaluating CAI hazards. I will focus on CAIs below a global catastrophe threshold, and give as much emphasis to secondary hazards such as wildfires or tsunami, as to primary impacts. Comparative hazard analysis, an essential part of risk assessment generally, is relevant here, including disaster experience with other hazards that generate comparable forces or situations. In the longer frame of Earth history there are other dangers of comparable severity. Comparisons with these hazards and known disasters suggest what features of CAI may be unique, which ones are more likely to affect different regions, countries and habitats, and which may be dealt with by integrated disaster preparedness.

The status quo’s localized risk calculus with regard to asteroids systemically disregards the global south and magnifies economic stratification----the aff’s paradigm shift to treating asteroids as global threats mobilizes urgency to devote resources to prevention efforts


Lee Clark, November 06, (Department of Sociology, Rutgers University, “Social Science and Near-Earth Objects: an Inventory of Issues”, Comet/Asteroid Impacts and Human Society: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Chapter 21, pg 355-357)
**GRD = Globally Relevant Disaster**
The scientific discovery that near Earth objects pose catastrophic potential was not enough to establish inquiry into NEOs as a legitimate activity. Science can only produce knowledge. It can not produce the larger social and political conditions that give scientific findings urgency, and currency. I cannot know for sure, but it seems doubtful that NEO research would have been possible in the 1950s. But AIDS, the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, globalization of capitalism, the Internet, and a truly worldwide, non-stop media barrage broaden our horizons and stretch our imaginations beyond the local milieu. The time is right to gain a larger audience for ideas, evidence, and theories about what I call Globally Relevant Disasters. Such disasters have effects far beyond their immediate environs. Globally relevant disasters aren’t new. The 1883 eruption of Krakatau in Indonesia killed perhaps 35 000 people, most from resultant tsunamis, one of which reached the Arabian Peninsula, some 7000 kilometers away (http://www.meteo.mcgill.ca/195-250/ tsunami/index.htm). The Tambora eruption in 1815 was much worse, with more global consequences (http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/volc_images/southeast_asia/ indonesia/tambora.html). It was 150 times larger than Mt. Saint Helens, and ejected a volcanic column 40 kilometers in the air. It darkened the skies entirely, over a distance of 500 kilometers (Stothers 1984). Estimates are that 92 000 people died from Tambora, 82 000 of these from starvation caused by cooler temperatures – 1816 is known as the “year without a summer” – across the northern hemisphere. The combination of plagues that we call the Black Death emerged in Europe in 1347 and within four years had wiped out two thirds of the populations of many cities. The catastrophe continued for 300 years, claiming nearly one-third of the European population and touching every part of society. And of course, Earth’s collision with an asteroid 65 million years ago was globally catastrophic, for about ½ of the world’s species, especially the dinosaurs. But if globally relevant disasters aren’t new, we do have new ways to bring catastrophe to more people in places far removed from the point of threat. Time and globalization processes have brought with them new “disaster vectors,” connecting people to damage in unprecedented ways. The obvious disaster-vector is interdependence, which means that people’s social networks provide mechanisms for the transmission of harm. Faster and cheaper modes of transportation, for example, can potentially spread diseases exponentially. AIDS wouldn’t have taken nearly as large a toll 100 years ago. Somewhat less obviously, modern social organization and technologies bring with them new ways to harm people who are far away in both time and space. Nuclear explosions, nuclear accidents, and global warming are examples. We are increasingly “at risk” of global disasters, most and probably all of which would qualify as worst cases. This situation presents us with unprecedented challenges both in terms of anticipating worst cases and responding to them. GRDs, and the possibility of GRDs, pose new challenges for international relations. What happens if our skills become honed to such a degree that we can predict precisely where the Earth would be struck by an NEO? Should an asteroid be headed for the middle of sub-Saharan Africa, I wonder what resources the rich countries would be willing to devote to the rescue effort. The UN would undoubtedly try to mobilize support for rescue but possible recipient countries would wrangle over who should shoulder the greater responsibility. If the impending threat were serious enough, the force of the blast may destroy the better part of an entire country. Should that happen, the surviving countries would be faced with either helping the country that was destroyed rebuild or with providing the refugees a permanent home. It’s hard to imagine scenarios with satisfactory outcomes. There are other daunting issues regarding GRDs. We are ignorant about many things we need to know. Scholars have not been thinking about disaster at this scale for very long. Is it like predicting a hurricane? A nuclear meltdown? Super-volcanic eruptions? To what class of events should we look for intellectual and practical guidance? We have the 2004 tsunami, which killed perhaps 250 000 people in a handful of countries, but not much else. We have a number of analytic tools, ranging from case studies to counterfactuals. In using those tools, it may very well be that moving farther away from known realities moves closer to what it would actually be like to suffer a GRD. Events that earn the designation of “worst case” are ones that are beyond our imagination: a nuclear explosion in downtown London, a liquefied natural gas explosion near Tokyo. GRDs will probably be outside our imagined purview. Very few, if any, policy makers are thinking about such issues; nor are they likely to give GRDs the attention they deserve, I argue below. This embryonic state of affairs means that we often don’t have clear parameters for what counts as truth and knowledge. Consequently, we don’t enjoy set standards for what constitutes expertise in an area. An epidemiologist may know a lot about how a disease spreads through a population, but that is no guarantee of expertise in modeling how the disease might spread across populations, or continents. A social scientist might know how people and organizations respond to earthquakes, floods, and the like but the truth-value of extrapolations to the entire world is hard to estimate. Our ignorance concerning knowledge about globally relevant disasters has the blessing that there are no disciplinary boundaries. There are, as of yet at least, no claimants to intellectual property, no chest-beaters crowing about how their own outlook is so much better than all the others. This is a good thing, because understanding a disaster of global consequence would seem to require many intellectual talents. Hopefully, thinking about and study of GRDs will keep its interdisciplinary character. A caveat to the above: scholarship on NEOs seems not to have involved social science very much, as yet. Clark Chapman, and coauthors, said in a recent paper that: … essentially no analysis has been done of how to mitigate other repercussions from predictions of impacts (civil panic), how to plan for other kinds of mitigation besides deflection (e.g. evacuation of ground zero, storing up food in the case of a worldwide breakdown of agriculture, etc.), or how to coordinate responses to impact predictions among agencies within a single nation or among nations (http://www.internationalspace.com/pdf/NEOwp_Chapman-Durda-Gold.pdf). Indeed, to date the field seems dominated by those with non-social scientific backgrounds. That’s natural because it is from disciplines such as biology, astronomy and the like that many threats are discovered in the first place. But ultimately any disaster is interesting because it involves humans, and we’ll have to turn to the social sciences for that. In this paper I can provide no definitive answers, partly because we don’t have enough direct data points – incidents of near Earth object impacts – on which to base conclusions. I intend this paper to lay out an agenda of things we need to know about, think about, and research, if we are to begin to understand the limits and possibilities of social science research relevant to the NEO threat.

Racism is America is systemic and institutionalized, BUT its material manifestations are considerably magnified in the wake of natural disasters---a robust historical read shows the necessity for disaster prevention methods like the aff


Connor Maxwell, 4-5-18, (Connor Maxwell is a policy analyst for Race and Ethnicity Policy at American Progress. His work focuses on criminal justice, racial justice, diversity, and inclusion issues. Prior to joining American Progress, he interned at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Public Policy from the University of Virginia, “America’s Sordid Legacy on Race and Disaster Recovery”, Center for American Progress, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2018/04/05/448999/americas-sordid-legacy-race-disaster-recovery/)
Six months have passed since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Category 4 storm destroyed houses and significant infrastructure, leaving mass devastation. Many Puerto Ricans—who are American citizens—remain without electricity, access to clean drinking water, employment, and even housing. While this storm’s ferocity was nearly unprecedented, the Trump administration’s reaction was predictable. People of color are frequently the victims of environmental disaster while their government neglects and underserves them time and again. Too often, public officials fail to make the necessary investments in preparedness and resilience solutions, then place savings and corporate profits over the health and well-being of residents of color. The global climate is changing, and extreme weather disasters will only increase in regularity. Unless the federal government prioritizes equity in preparedness and recovery policy, environmental hazards will continue to bring ruin, displacement, and death to communities of color. Even in times without extreme weather disasters, the United States has an abysmal record when it comes to protecting people of color from environmental hazards stemming from dangerous industrial activity and harmful infrastructure. These failures undermine trust in government and persist even to this day. For instance, in Louisiana, more than 150 industrial plants and refineries have been built along an 85-mile stretch that people of color predominately populate. Known as “Cancer Alley,” this stretch is home to communities with high rates of cancer, illness, and death. While state officials have downplayed the risks and praised polluters for their commitment to health and safety, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports have indicated that some chemicals emitted from these plants are carcinogenic. Due to emissions, the five census tracts with the highest estimated cancer risks nationally are in Louisiana. Meanwhile, in Flint, Michigan, officials diverted city water in an effort to save money but neglected to treat the water to prevent corrosion as it traveled through lead service lines. Their actions exposed more than 100,000 people to dangerous levels of lead. But, for months, the state ignored the predominantly black residents’ concerns and reassured them the water was safe, even as state employees received “coolers of purified water.” Many residents continue to use bottled water—for drinking, bathing, and even flushing their toilets—almost four years later. Additionally, just last year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order reviving the Dakota Access oil pipeline, which jeopardizes the water resources of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. His blatant indifference to months of protests reemphasizes the administration’s position that Big Oil profits take precedence over the health of native people. While the failure to adequately respond to problems facing communities of color is ongoing, it’s at its most blatant following natural disasters. Even before Maria struck Puerto Rico, emergency personnel and public health officials understood that they faced a major crisis. But when President Trump arrived in San Juan two weeks later, he downplayed the disaster. So, while the president was throwing paper towels at the survivors of the storm, there was no real effort to fix the approximately $100 billion in damage or help the families of the estimated 1,000 people who lost their lives. At a time when real policy solutions were needed, the president’s misleading statements and actions undermined recovery and rebuilding efforts by diminishing the urgency of the situation. Just weeks after the storm, Puerto Rico asked the U.S. Congress for $94 billion to fund recovery and rebuilding efforts. Since then, Congress has appropriated a mere $23 billion in direct aid, and the Trump administration has only spent a fraction of it. As a result, approximately 1 in 10 Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands remain without powerand thousands still await permanent access to clean water and housing. These problems heighten the risk of respiratory illnesses, heart disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and myriad other health issues. Due to the slow response from Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have barely begun the long road to recovery. Now, as winter turns to spring, the people of Puerto Rico face the hottest and rainiest months of the year, as well as a looming hurricane season that threatens to worsen this nightmare scenario. Hurricane Harvey dumped 27 trillion gallons of rain on Texas and Louisiana. Houston—which is now home to as many as 40,000 Katrina survivorswas inundated with water. Months after the storm dissipated, Hispanic and black residents were twice as likely as their white counterparts to report experiencing an income shock following the storm and then not getting the help they needed to recover. White residents were twice as likely as black residents to report that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had already approved their applications for relief. However, inequitable disaster response transcends the Trump administration. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy tore through New York and New Jersey, killing 159 people and causing $70 billion in property damage. In much of the region, low-income people and people of color were hit the hardest. Yet, they did not receive equal attention or resources from government officials. In particular, New Jersey’s policies and practices for recovery favored largely white homeowners at the expense of largely black and Hispanic renters. To this day, many buildings that house some of America’s most vulnerable families remain unrepaired and unprepared for extreme weather in the future. In 2005, under the George W. Bush administration, Hurricane Katrina resulted in nearly 2,000 fatalities and displaced an estimated 1 million residents. African American communities, especially in metropolitan New Orleans, were disproportionately affected by the storm and underserved by the federal government. Rather than receiving the resources they needed to recover, rebuild, and return to their homes, many were forced out of Louisiana completely. Ten years after Katrina, 90 percent of New Orleans residents had returned to their neighborhoods, yet just 37 percent of residents from the predominantly black Lower Ninth Ward had come home. Today, there are 92,000 fewer African Americans living in New Orleans compared with before Katrina. Hurricane Maria—in addition to the past extreme weather events noted above—provides yet another chilling reminder of the consequences of systemic racism in America. Time and again, communities of color have been left behind. By 2043, these communities will constitute a majority of the U.S population. Therefore, policymakers must ensure they are fully equipped and prepared to withstand extreme weather fueled by climate change. Instead of employing dog-whistle rhetoric about how Katrina survivors are “a bunch of whiners” or how Puerto Ricans “want everything done for them,” elected officials must promote equity; provide long-term aid to disaster-affected regions; and invest in resilient housing and infrastructure for a changing planet.

Uncertainties in detection and prediction necessitate an international preparedness strategy---the aff folds in non-space faring nations to create a unified planetary defense program---that maximizes coordination AND response time.



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