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February 21, 2007

Will the UN Save the World from Asteroids?

Reuters story on CNN: “An asteroid may come uncomfortably close to Earth in 2036 and the United Nations should assume responsibility for a space mission to deflect it, a group of astronauts, engineers and scientists said on Saturday.”

In this exclusive post, Fractals of Change takes you into the future by pre-viewing newscasts from CNN (technology is under NDA and can’t be revealed). 

It’s 2010.  The UN has accepted this immense responsibility (along with increased funding).  Much sooner than expected, the challenge has arrived.  A comet alters the course of a Mount Everest size asteroid; there is a 88.7% that it will strike the earth in 399 days according to certain scientists.  Others, of course, dispute this number. 

An audit reveals that the son-in-law of the Secretary General has misspent most of the funds allocated for the UN anti-asteroid rocket program.  His defenders point out that no threat was expected before 2036 by which time his “alternative investments” would have paid off and the funds would have been replaced with interest.  It’s unfair to condemn him for the precipitous timing of this threat, they say.

Iran currently holds the rotating chairmanship of UNAACA (United Nations Asteroid Avoidance Coordination Assembly).  The chairman regrets to say that the committee will not be able to meet until the current sanctions imposed on Iran for above ground nuclear weapon testing are lifted.

299 days left.

In a rare display of unanimity, the Security Council, over the objections of the General Assembly, takes authority over this matter and begins debate.  However, the council does not remain unanimous for long.

The US and Britain have proposed using a small nuclear explosion to alter the path of the asteroid.  The US even volunteers to supply one of its own rockets – which will, of course, fly a UN flag.  A small but persistent group of anti-nuclear activists monopolize the TV cameras outside the UN.

“Can this evidence, mostly generated in the US, be trusted?” asks the Chinese ambassador.  “Is this asteroid really a weapon of mass destruction… or an excuse for precipitous unilateral orbit change?”

The US replies that it is not able to reveal all of its sources without compromising national security but that it is absolutely certain of its data.  PowerPoint slides showing the trajectory of the asteroid are presented by the Secretary of State.

There is general agreement among scientists that, due to the shape of the solar system, any impact is likely to be near the equator.  There is no agreement on how the higher latitudes will be affected.  Some feel that the resulting dust cloud will reverse global warming.  There is significant support for the asteroid in low-lying countries far from the tropics.

199 days left.

Venezuela, currently one of the temporary members of The Security Council and expected to support action since it is in the impact zone, surprises observers by condemning this “Yankee plot to destabilize the regime of Grand Emperor Chavez.”

Questions are asked in the US Congress.  Liberal members ask “do we have a sufficient plan for dealing with the aftermath of an incursion into the asteroid belt?”  Conservatives want to know “how can any expenditure be justified when scientists are not unanimous and there is still a significant chance – even according to those who support the asteroid-collision theory – that the asteroid will miss the earth?”

France warns the United States and Britain against any unilateral action against the asteroid.  After all, both countries have signed a convention promising not to be the first to launch nuclear weapons from space.  France understands the urgency but is sure that no situation is so serious that it can’t be dealt with through diplomacy and discussion.  It is also time, says France, to consider whether the sanctions on Iran might be a little too severe.  At least cognac exports to that county should be allowed on humanitarian grounds.

99 days left.  Texas, it turns out, is the most likely point of impact.

A CNN poll shows that most people in San Francisco feel that it would be better to evacuate Texas than use a nuclear weapon against the asteroid.  The California legislature establishes a quota system for Texans attempting to enter California “for health and environmental reasons.”

The President, a dark horse blogger candidate from Rhode Island who catapulted into fame on the eve of the Democratic primaries by promising URU - Unilateral  Rejection of Unilateralism, reaffirms her campaign pledge but says that the US may suspend its financial support of the UN anti-asteroid program if action is not taken “soon”.  She is roundly flamed by some of her best blogger friends for threatening the world body in this way.

49 days left.

OPEC announces that, for the sake of the world, it is doubling oil prices and cutting production to “compensate” for the likely loss of Texas oil capacity.

Russia joins OPEC and immediately assumes the presidency.  China incorporates the “breakaway province of Nigeria” as a precaution.

9 days left.

Unfortunately, we can’t see any further into the future because, at this point, our pre-viewed CNN broadcasts become all celebrities all of the time.  We don’t know whether the lack of significant news going forward signifies the end of intelligent life on earth, a format change by CNN, or both.

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