01 April 2008

The Hazard to Civilization from Fireballs and Comets

Laura Knight-Jadczyk


Mon, 07 Jan 2008 11:15 EST

Having recently written a review of New Light on the Black Death: The Cosmic Connection
by dendrochronologist Mike Baillie of Queen's University, Belfast,
Ireland, I decided to go deeper into the subject. Over the past few
weeks a whole case of books I ordered have been arriving and getting
piled on my desk after a quick thumb-through... so much to do, so
little time.

In the meantime, a friend of mine (who is a climate scientist at a
major U.S. research facility) turned me on to an interesting find, a
paper addressed to the European Office of Aerospace Research and
development, dated June 4, 1996, entitled: The Hazard to Civilization
from Fireballs and Comets by S.V.M. Clube. (For the uninitiated, Clube
is an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford).

In this short (4 pages) letter and summary statement, Clube writes (emphases in the original, make of them what you will):

Asteroids which pass close to the Earth have been fully recognized by mankind for only about 20 years. Previously, the idea that substantial unobserved objects might be close enough to be a potential hazard to the Earth was treated with as much derision as the unobserved aether.
Scientists of course are in business to establish broad principles (eg
relativity) and the Earth's supposedly uneventful, uniformitarian
environment was already very much in place. The result was that
scientists who paid more than lip service to objects close enough to
encounter the Earth did so in an atmosphere of barely disguised
contempt. Even now, it is difficult for laymen to appreciate the
enormity of the intellectual blow with which most of the Body
Scientific has recently been struck and from which it is now seeking to

I stopped right there and asked myself: Hmmm... just what
intellectual blow is he talking about here? After a bit of thought, it
occurred to me that he must be talking about the Comet Shoemaker-Levy
fragment impacts on Jupiter which produced a huge amount of excitement
at the time which was just two years before the date of this letter. To
return to Clube's report, he continues:

The present report, then, is concerned with those other celestial
bodies recorded by mankind since the dawn of civilization which either
miss or impinge upon the Earth and which have also been despised. Now
known respectively as comets (>1 kilometre in size) and meteoroids

That he immediately switched from asteroids to comets seems to
confirm my speculation that he was talking about Shoemaker-Levy. But it
gets more interesting:

Confronted on many occasions in the past by the prospect of
world-end, national elites have often found themselves having to
suppress public panic - only to discover, too late, that the usual
means of control commonly fail. Thus an institutionalized science is
expected to withhold knowledge of the threat; a self-regulated press is
expected to make light of any disaster; while an institutionalized
religion is expected to oppose predestination and to secure such
general belief in a fundamentally benevolent deity as can be mustered.

(B) The present report based on the above grant addresses a variety
of issues within the broad context of the hazard to civilization due to
fireballs and comets. It consists of:

(1) A brief statement of conclusions arising from a narrative report (3 copies);

(2) A narrative report (with appendix) linking the results of three
scientific studies described in papers submitted to mainstream journals
(3 copies)

(3) The relevant papers detailing the results which arise through
the granted funds due to (a) Clube; (b) Clube & Napier; and (c)
Clube, Holye, Napier & Wickramasinghe (3 copies; and

(4) A co-authored foundation paper by Asher & Clube detailing the results from which items (3) and (2) progressed.

It is emphasized here that the present report expresses a viewpoint
which is contrary to the mainstream scientific theme currently
reinforced through various US agencies in the wake of recent major
findings under US leadership...

Despite the importance of this mainstream theme, it is recognized
here that the cometary signatures in the terrestrial record are
generally stronger than the asteroidal signatures in the case of both
long term and short term effects i.e. those affecting biological and
geological evolution on the one hand and mankind and civilization on
the other..[...]

There are fundamental paradoxes to be assimilated as a result of
this unexpected situation. Thus the perceived culture of enterprise and
enlightenment which underpins the two centuries culminating with the
Space Age and which led mankind to spurn comets and fireballs may now
be seen as the prelude to a profound paradigm shift: the restoration of
an environmental outlook more in keeping with that which preceded
American Independence and which paid serious heed to comets and

Clube then thanks the USAF for "its generous and timely injection of
funds" and we note that the letter was cc'd to, among others, Edward
Teller at the Hoover Institute, S. Fred Singer at Fairfax VA, and Jack
A. Goldstone, Davis, CA.

The summary of conclusions accompanying this letter is equally
interesting, but that will have to wait for tomorrow. If you can't
wait, you can read a pdf here: The Hazard to Civilization from Fireballs and Comets.

I should add that, yes, I obtained the whole report and the papers
it refers to (and more besides). The report makes one startling remark
that I'm going to drop just to whet your appetite:

...the Christian, Islamic and Judaic cultures have all moved since
the European Renaissance to adopt an unreasoning anti-apocalyptic
stance, apparently unaware of the burgeoning science of catastrophes.
History, it now seems, is repeating itself: it has taken the Space Age
to revive the Platonist voice of reason but it emerges this time within
a modern anti-fundamentalist, anti-apocalyptic tradition over which
governments may, as before, be unable to exercise control. ... Cynics
(or modern sophists), in other words, would say that we do not need the
celestial threat to disguise Cold War intentions; rather we need the
Cold War to disguise celestial intentions!
(emphasis in the original)

Just think about what this might mean, considering when it was
written and all that has happened since. One might think the War on
Terror was actually a planned cover-up...

With that happy thought, have a look at this: Majesterium and the Tipping Point

Makes one wonder where the REAL hazard to civilization is coming from...

Comment: Continue to Part Three: Cosmic Turkey Shoot

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