In Wake of Meteorite Hit,
a Call for Defense of Earth
Feb. 18—In response to the Feb. 15 meteorite explosion over the Russian region of Chelyabinsk, which shook the region and injured over 1,100 people, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin reiterated his 2011 call for U.S.-Russian collaboration for a Strategic Defense of Earth (SDE).
According to the Russian Interfax agency, Rogozin said:
"I have spoken before about the need for some kind of international initiative, related to establishing a warning and prevention system for dangerous approaches to Earth by objects of extraterrestrial origin."
The Chelyabinsk event (in the Russian Urals) confirms the urgency of solving this problem, he added. Neither Russia nor the United States has the capability to knock aside such objects now, Rogozin stressed.
Rogozin recalled that when he first raised the question of the Defense of Earth, while he was Russia's political representative to NATO, the general reaction was one of doubt. RTR Vesti state TV quoted him saying,
"The response was skepticism: 'That can't happen, because it can never happen.' There was a certain amount of criticism, and many people laughed."
No one is laughing today. The Russian government has sprung into action, a United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is taking up the subject in Vienna, Austria, and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, announced that the committee will hold a hearing in the coming weeks to explore ways to identify which asteroids may pose a threat to Earth in the future.
But, as Lyndon LaRouche pointed out recently, mankind has now effectively lost nearly three decades of irreplaceable time in preparing to defend against such threats from space, since President Reagan's initial offer for joint U.S.-Soviet research on anti-missile defense was crushed in the mid-1980s. It will take an extraordinary crash effort to develop the necessary resources, in manpower and physical capability, to put the world on track to protecting the planet from the threat of near-Earth objects.
As could be expected, the Russian government has embarked on an urgent mobilization to create the conditions, and political alliances, for dealing with the dangers from impact of near-Earth objects.
Dealing with the threat from space is an urgent issue for political leaders and statesmen as well as scientists, Academician Andrei Kokoshin told Russia's Itar-Tass in an interview published Feb. 17.
"We already have people who have been harmed and injured as a result of the meteorite's fall. Should a larger celestial body hit the Earth, the effects will be far more devastating, particularly so, if that happens in a large city. And in certain cases, as many scientists have been warning, the fall of an asteroid would spell the end of humanity."
Kokoshin is a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and founder and Dean of the Moscow State University Department of International Politics. He has served in the U.S. and Canada Institute, and was Secretary of the Russian Federation Defense Council, and of the Russian Federation Security Council, from 1997 to 1999. He is also now first deputy chairman of the State Duma's Committee on Science and High Technology.
Now, two days after the meteorite struck, the time is ripe, Kokoshin said, for this to become an international political issue. There should be concerted efforts by the international community, on the basis of decisions by the leading countries of the world having the appropriate scientific knowledge and technologies, Itar-Tass cited him saying. "Such technologies do exist in Russia, the United States, China, the European Union and, to a certain extent, in India," he said. The issue should be discussed in both bilateral and multilateral formats.
"It is high time to create a common international center for monitoring and responding to natural threats from space," Kokoshin said. "The UN may create a special committee within its structure to coordinate efforts by UN Security Council member-states and other UN countries in that field."
Meanwhile, Alexei Pushkov, the Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, called for creating an international Anti-Asteroid Defense System (AADS), with the United States cooperating with Russia and China. As reported by Space Safety magazine, "The Russian government's foreign affairs committee chief Alexei Pushkov interpreted the 'message' differently, saying 'Instead of fighting on Earth, people should be creating a joint system of asteroid defence.' Pushkov continued, encouraging a multilateral drive for asteroid protection: 'Instead of creating a (military) European space defense system, the United States should join us and China in creating the AADS—the Anti-Asteroid Defense System.' "
Rogozin has been tasked by President Vladimir Putin to develop a plan for action in the short term. But this clearly begs the question of international collaboration, including from the United States.
And the U.S.?
To EIR's knowledge, there has never been a serious response from the United States to Rogozin's 2011 offer to develop a program for the Strategic Defense of Earth. While the U.S has led the way in asteroid detection up to this point, there is still much more to be done.
NASA estimates that there are about 11.5 million near-Earth asteroids smaller than 30 meters in diameter, and about 500,000 in the 30-to-100 meter range. Much less than one percent of this population has been found, and there is currently no active program to systemically find these smaller objects.
At a NASA press briefing Feb. 15, a spokesman said that NASA has not been tasked to find even the majority of these asteroids, let alone defend the Earth from them. Currently NASA's hands are tied by the policy and budget of the Obama Administration.
While there are many practical responses now being offered, including those that have appeared in the press, the real issue is what LaRouche has identified: three decades of lost time. It is safe to say that if LaRouche's policy of the SDI had been fully adopted, then this meteor would never have struck the Earth on Feb. 15.
The warning just delivered to the inhabitants of this planet is clear: Dump Obama, and dump the failed economic and strategic policies of the past 30 years. Mankind's future is in international collaboration to develop the capabilities for the strategic defense of Earth, or there will be no future at all.