How To Backup Life On Earth Ahead Of Any Doomsday Event

It’s happened before: why we need to plan for the next doomsday event that could wipe out much of life on Earth. Shutterstock/solarseven

Kristy Hamilton 14/06/2017, 22:57

The Conversation

There are ten asteroids that the space organisation NASA said this month have been classified as “potentially hazardous” based on their size and their orbits in our Solar system.

NASA has now identified 693 near-Earth objects thanks to the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft that’s been looking for potential threats to Earth since 2013.

The organisation doesn’t specify what kind of hazard these ten asteroids pose. But Earth has been hit by objects in the past, with devastating effects. Scientists largely agree that it was an asteroid or comet impact that started the chain of events that wiped out the dinosaurs around 60 million years ago.

This animation shows asteroids and comets observed by the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission.

Every year several previously unseen asteroids whizz past Earth, sometimes with only with a few days’ warning. This year two of these asteroids came very close to Earth, with one in May sailing past only 15,000km away. On cosmic scales, that was a very close shave.

But impacts from objects in space are just one of several ways that humanity and most of life on Earth could suddenly disappear.

We are already observing that extinctions are happening now at an unprecedented rate. In 2014 it was estimated that the extinction rate is now 1,000 times greater than before humans were on the Earth. The estimated number of extinctions ranges from 200 to 2,000 species per year.

From all of this very worrying data, it would not be a stretch to say that we are currently within a doomsday scenario. Of course, the “day” is longer than 24 hours but may be instead in the order of a century or two.

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