19 March 2008

Ex-astronaut pushes for international asteroid impact policy.

On the front page of its Marketplace section, the Wall Street Journal reports, "Ex-astronaut Rusty Schweickart wants to save the world from an incoming asteroid -- the multimegaton variety blamed for killing the dinosaurs -- and he thinks that the only sure-fire way to keep them away is by using, of all things, diplomacy." Schweickart maintains that "[t]he hard part of asteroids involves finding a way to reach a global agreement on how the planet would respond should an asteroid head our way." To that end, he hopes to meet with secretary-general of the United Nations this fall. Schweickart explains that certain factors, such as increased risks for certain countries when changing an asteroid's trajectory away from Earth, could lead to a badly-timed crisis, and that "the only fair way to proceed is to have a decision-making formula drawn up well in advance, thus unaffected by the political heat of an actual crisis." He adds that it is also important "to overcome global suspicion that a unilateral American anti-asteroid effort would be a ruse to militarize space."

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