In space bureaucracy news, the United Nations has announced an initiative to prevent the destruction of Earth through the use of meetings.
The United Nations, a group of 193 nations divided on every conceivable issue, last month announced the formation of the International Asteroid Warning Group (IAWG), a multi-national committee responsible for discussing whether anything should be done about the possible extinction of humanity.
According to the charter of the IAWG, should the asteroid belt engage in threatening behavior such as lobbing space rocks at the Earth, the IAWG would send an e-mail (with the priority flag set to “True”) to the UN Committee On Peaceful Outer Space Uses and Treaties (COPOUT). COPOUT would then forward the e-mail (still with the priority flag on) to the asteroid belt, possibly appending a strongly worded PDF file describing potential sanctions, up to and including trade restrictions between Earth and the asteroid belt.
Interest in asteroids is nothing new. In 2001, former astronauts Ed Lu and Rusty Schweickart formed the B612 Foundation to hunt for asteroids rich in vitamins B-6 and B-12.
The move was applauded by members of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE). “No government in the world today has explicitly assigned the responsibility for planetary protection to any of its agencies,” said Scweickart, who broke into the ASE meeting to talk primarily about B-vitamins in space. “This move by the UN General Assembly takes national irresponsibility global, by creating an international agency not explicitly assigned to planetary protection.”
Lu, who crashed an ASE museum event, suggested the UN set up a program to practice Extinction Level Events (ELEs) by crashing the nearby ISON comet into the Earth. “If we get hit again 20 years from now, that’s not bad luck — that’s stupidity. We have a perfect opportunity to practice wiping out all life on Earth now, so we can be ready the next time!” He then went on to demand the UN investigate why there is no vitamin B-4.
The B612 Foundation announced that it isn’t waiting for a government-funded program to deal with the potential asteroid menace. The group is planning its own telescope, the Sentinel, to spy on incoming asteroids. The project is expected to cost $450 million, an ambitious budget for an organization consisting of two ex-astronauts and a pair of binoculars.
One extremist group, Asteroids for Destruction and Extinction Level Events (ADELE), claimed responsibility for the Chelyabinsk meteor attack in February. Their spokesteroid, who requested anonymity because she had converted to Plutoidism, said, “We didn’t start this. NASA is the one who announced they were hunting asteroids to capture and send to Earth. We’re just accelerating the process, so to speak.”
Representatives of Earth’s governments and the asteroid belt are rumored to be in talks (pictured above) to defuse the tension between them. The Earth proposal reported allows the asteroids to continue to develop and launch extinction-level rocks at the Earth in exchange for allowing astronomers to see them coming. One government leader, who requested anonymity because his poll numbers were low, told reporters he was “pretty sure” all life on Earth would not be destroyed by such a collision, but if it was, “it probably won’t happen until after the election”.
(Click on Earth’s impending doom to read the original story.)