Could a large asteroid hit Earth and wipe out mankind in the not too distant future? You might think so if you read the tabloids or watch certain Hollywood films:
But at the current rate of impacts, one large asteroid is expected to impact Earth every 100 million years or so.
According to NASA, all known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids have less than a 0.01% chance of impacting Earth in the next 100 years.
Compare that to manmade climate change where we currently have about 50:50 chance of holding global average temperatures to less than a 2°C rise over pre‐industrial levels by 2050.
CO2 levels are now at 405 parts per million (ppm) and rising fast. We’re on course to hit 450 ppm by 2034.
A recent scientific conference on stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations concluded that 450 ppm would only result in a 50% likelihood of limiting global warming to 2°C, and that it would be necessary to achieve stabilisation below 400 ppm to give a relatively high certainty of not exceeding 2°C.
So watch films about asteroids hitting Earth by all means, and enjoy them if that’s your cup of tea, but don’t forget that the chance of a cataclysmic strike is vanishingly small, whereas runaway climate change, climate breakdown, climate chaos, the end of human civilisation, call it what you will, the chances of that are incredibly high.
Unless of course 2012TC4 hits us by accident this week!