Costly Solutions

“Is it worth it? Should we just pull back, forget the whole thing as a bad idea and take care of our own problems at home?”
“No. We have to stay here and there’s a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you’ll get ten different answers, but there’s one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won’t just take us. It’ll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu and Einstein and Morobuto and Buddy Holly and Aristophenes … and all of this … all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars.”
Mary Ann Cramer interviews Cmdr. Sinclair in Babylon 5: “Infection”

The Nature News Blog has a short posting with news of the meteor that struck the Chelyabinsk region of Russia a few days ago. I find the end of the posting very interesting:

In response to the accident, scientists in both the United States and Russia have called for programmes to intercept and destroy meteoroids and debris. Such concepts are likely to be costly. [my emphasis]
Nature News Blog

Hmm … “likely to be costly” … yup, but isn’t extinction more costly? After all, there is a chance that an asteroid wipes us all out. Stephen Petranek did a great TED Talk on different ways we could become extinct (see below), and a really big asteroid hitting earth was on number 1 (around 24 minutes):

There is also one TED Talk by Phil Plait focusing on possible ways to defend against asteroids:

After all, like the quote at the beginning of the posting shows (although regarding another astronomical event), the costs of getting hit by a bigger asteroid are just too high. So yeah, give me that costly solution, and let’s hope we will never have to use it.

Russia might just be the wake-up call we needed.