‘Don’t Look Up’ is a satirical science fiction film. The satire is based on the indifference, shown by the media and the people in power, over the rising concern of climate change.
Directed by Adam McKay, with Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio as the starring leads, this movie is about a ‘planet-killer’ comet that is approaching Earth. For the entire course of the movie, DiCaprio and Lawrence try to raise awareness among the common masses about the life-ending threat.
- What are the threats that a ‘planet-killer’ comet possesses?
- What are the chances of human survival?
The ‘planet-killer’ comet is a rhetorical representation of the severe climate change that Earth is facing. Climate change is one of the major causes of the mass extinction of several species from the surface of Earth. This threatens human survival too.
But what if a real ‘planet-killer’ asteroid blasts Earth? Would we be able to survive? What would we do to live? What are the chances of human survival?
What are the threats that a ‘planet-killer’ comet possesses?
In 2016, a NASA scientist warned that the Earth is not prepared for such an event. In 2018, famous physicist, Stephen Hawking, in this last book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, considered that an asteroid hit would be the biggest threat to the planet and human existence.
When an asteroid collides with the Earth, dust and smoke rise into the sky, blocking sunlight from reaching our planet and lowering the global temperature. Many living beings may perish as a result of this disaster. The damage dealt by a meteor varies with the size of the meteor itself.
A small city might be destroyed if an asteroid the size of an apartment collides with Earth. An asteroid the size of a 20-story structure colliding with Earth might entirely destroy a small country. The size of the asteroid we see in ‘Don’t Look up’ is 5km – 10km wide. An asteroid this large can destroy an entire planet by causing earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis which would rise above 1000m, high enough to destroy almost every habitable building in this world. The shockwaves would be felt throughout the earth and would trigger landslides in mountains, forming cracks in the land which could collapse entire cities into it.
Aside from learning more about the solar system, one of the most compelling motivations for scientists to study asteroids is to understand more about their total numbers as well as their paths and physical attributes.
What are the chances of human survival?
According to expert evidence before the US Congress in 2013, NASA would need at least five years of planning before launching a mission to intercept an asteroid. The US National Science and Technology Council warned, in June 2018, that the country was unprepared for an asteroid impact, and devised and issued the “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy Action Plan” to help.
Basically, the survival of humans totally depends upon the preparations and precautions we have taken to face this scenario. So, what do we have to do to ensure human survival?
First, we have to detect the asteroid and observe its features. Speed, rotation rate, structure are the major features we would be concerned about. This is done to check the chances of deflecting any approaching asteroid.
Secondly, if deflection is possible, then we would have to deploy techniques that would use an artificial gravitational builder. Mostly a gigantic spacecraft is suitable for this purpose. The spacecraft would hover near the asteroid to deflect it enough to not hit the Earth.
The next alternative step would be to hit the asteroid with multiple missiles to try and deflect it. Even hitting the asteroid with one or more spacecraft is a potential resolution. Another alternative is to use a laser beam, heating one part of the asteroid to generate a thrust force on it.
The last resort would be to blast the asteroid itself with a nuclear weapon. This might break the asteroid into multiple pieces, which would be of lesser concern, or it could also turn the asteroid into dust, depending upon the degree of nuclear matter used.
In case we can’t deflect the asteroid, just like what happened in ‘Don’t Look Up’, we would probably die of different causes, and this would mark the end of human existence. Though a species similar to us could be existing anywhere in the nearby universe, no one is sure about it.
What would you do if an asteroid was about to hit Earth? Let us know in the comments below.