An asteroid tumbling to Earth near the U.S. presidential election sounds like something straight out of a Hollywood movie. The hoopla over the asteroid is starting to ramp up and is a bit overblown. While the risk is certainly not zero, space expert Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted, “Asteroid 2018VP1, a refrigerator-sized space-rock, is hurtling towards us at more than 40,000 km/hr. It may buzz-cut Earth on Nov 2, the day before the Presidential Election.” He also emphasized that it is not big enough to cause any harm. Here are three science-related risks that I am far more concerned about right now.
According to Popular Mechanics magazine, that little asteroid has roughly a 0.41 percent chance of making it into our atmosphere and even if it did, I am pretty sure it would burn up. Speaking of burning up, that was the sensation in my body when I saw suggestions and innuendo that a policymaker who listens to scientists on things like coronavirus or climate change is an insult. Remember, there is always a scientist trying to warn people in every disaster movie and nobody listens. At times, this is how we feel when we see COVID-19 and climate disasters playing out just as we expected them too. I am ecstatic that climate change is one of the six topics chosen for the final Presidential debate because it illustrates the urgency in the crisis. And if you still don’t understand why it is taking such a center stage, a previous article of mine in Forbes makes the connections to our economy, public health, infrastructure, water needs, energy, and more. Remember, just because you are tired of coronavirus or think climate change is a hoax does not mean either one will stop happening.
Carrying forth my burning theme, I am also far more concerned about the Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado. This fire, which is in the vicinity of Rocky Mountain National Park, is now the largest wildfire the state has experienced and as of October 19th, only 62 percent of it was contained. I have watched close friends of mine in that area posting about evacuating or the threat of it. According to a Colorado Climate Center monthly report, nearly 100% of the state was at some drought level last month. Seasonal projections that I recently documented in Forbes suggest this will continue or worsen through winter. These conditions are helping to fuel fires and cause significant air quality alerts in places like Denver. Several homes have been destroyed.
I am also concerned that our hyperactive hurricane season continues. We are currently monitoring Tropical Storm Epsilon. Yes, that’s right, Epsilon. We ran out of names weeks ago and had to resort to using the Greek Alphabet to name storms. That circumstance has only happened one other time in recorded history (2005) and as Weather Channel expert Rick Knabb tweeted, “We hadn’t even started using Greek alphabet on this date in 2005. #Epsilon as 26th storm of 2020, with 2.5 months to go, leaves us 2 behind the record 28 in 2005.” The 2005 season made it to Zeta so we are very close to the ultimate record for Atlantic storms. Epsilon will likely strengthen to a hurricane as it moves off in the direction of Bermuda.
Oh and by the way, the National Hurricane Center is watching another area in the northwestern Caribbean, but it has a low chance of development right now.