It’s always SOMETHING
November 5, 2011
Some days, I wonder why any of us bother to get up in the morning.
It’s not as though we don’t have enough to worry about, what with the economy in a shambles in just about every place that has an economy. And of course there’s politics, speaking of shambles, with a president on one side whose opinion polls put him somewhere in the neighborhood of a fart in church, and the opposition party offering up a field of candidates who come off as a bad hybrid of Keystone Cops and extras from Night of the Living Dead.
With all this in the air, I go online to read some nature news, thinking that will get me out of the mind-set that the world as we know it is coming to an end.
On one website, I learn that a piece of ice twice the size of Philadelphia is cracking off from the Antarctic ice shelf. The crack so far is about 20 miles long and up to 200 feet deep, and growing at a rate of nearly seven feet per day.
And it’s not even caused by “global warming.” I forget just now what the scientific term for the effect is, but it basically means “s**t happens.”
The whole thing is supposed to break off and start drifting around in the open sea later this year or early next year. Earth on the rocks, shaken, not stirred.
Nobody seems all that concerned. Maybe I shouldn’t be either. On the other hand, having a chunk of ice the size of a small South American nation bobbing around in the ocean just doesn’t sound like good news. Twice the size of Philly? At least it will be cleaner.
And then there’s the asteroid.
The news outlets describe it as an “aircraft carrier-sized asteroid, a little over four football fields in diameter.” It will pass by our little old home planet, closer to us than the moon.
And the moon is only about 250,000 miles away.
That sounds like a far piece, but in astronomic terms, that’s like having a bullet pass by your head close enough that you can hear it buzz.
It’s supposed to pass us by this coming Tuesday. Just so you know.
NASA, known for calling the catastrophic explosion of a Delta 2 rocket as “an anomaly,” has classified the asteroid as a “potentially hazardous object.”
There was a time when if NASA said it would be a near miss, I’d relax. But not too long ago, the space agency aimed a satellite at Mars and missed the whole freaking planet, so, yeah, I’m gonna chew my nails just a little bit.
If this asteroid hits, it won’t be the end of the world, but it will bust things up pretty well. It would make a 4,000 megaton blast, (nearly 20,000 times the force of the bomb that fried Nagasaki), a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. If it hits the ocean, it could cause a tsunami 70 feet high. The tsunamis that hit Japan earlier this year were no more than a third that high.
One of the wire service stories said “Encounters of objects this large this close to our planet won’t happen again until the year 2028…” That one will be a wee bit closer than this one. Wonderful.
I closed the laptop and turned on CNN, only to see some goon in a suit dodging questions on his candidacy. I flipped over to the USA Network to an NCIS re-run. Give me over-the-top violence and improbable stunts any day. It beats watching a planet on the rocks and under fire, and anyway, I’d rather see the bad guys get blown away than elected.