"Why, in this supposedly post-American world," is the U.S. still expected to "save the world from asteroids?" wonders Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating. It's a fair question, however odd, and apparently a somewhat pressing one as well:
The U.S. currently spends about $5.5 million per year to track NEOs [near-earth objects] and less than a million on researching ways to counter them, but is falling far short of asteroid-detection goals.
Asteroid-detection is clearly important: "One just a few meters wide could wipe out a major city." But the fact remains that the U.S.'s asteroid-detection investments are benefiting all countries, countries that arguably should be expected to chip in on costs; this isn't global warming, where the burden might reasonably fall on countries unevenly.
Vague gestures at international cooperation haven't produced much here, Keating observes. So instead, as Eugenie Samuel Reich notes in Nature, "the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has until 15 October to decide which agency will be responsible for protecting the planet from an asteroid strike." Shouldn't other earthlings have to chip in to prevent planet-wide destruction?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.