Asteroids: New worlds to plunder

Friday, February 22, 2013   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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With all the woes that we humans have inflicted on our weary, old Earth – from the reckless plundering of her resources to the self-destructive tampering with her climate – perhaps it's time we gave her a break.

What? You want us to cut back on our fracking, ransacking, scorched-Earth ways? No, no, of course not. I merely mean that the Good Earth is getting a bit, shall we say, depleted. So, to maintain our insatiable appetite for devouring our own environment, shouldn't we be seeking greener pastures to exploit?

Good news: Our scientists are already on top of it. At the 221st annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in January, all the buzz was about drastically ramping up the flow of tax dollars into "sky surveys" to detect and analyze "near-earth asteroids." It seems that some 20,000 of these hulking chunks of rock, ice, and who-knows-what are orbiting around our solar system, yet only 6,000 of them have been identified. The professional sky watchers say that at the current pace of detecting and probing this plethora of asteroids zipping around and at us, not only are we in grave danger of being smacked by some, but we're also missing one heck of an economic opportunity, for there's gold in them thar skies!

With dollars in their eyes, several astronomers predict that many asteroids contain rich veins of platinum, cobalt, zinc, and other valuable metals, as well as such essential human needs as oxygen and hydrogen. "Let's go get it," is their exuberant cry! First, they demand, fund us and our technological probes to find out what's in each chunk of space stuff, then, finance manned missions to "harvest" the goodies.

How fracking wonderful is this? Our expertise at exploitation of natural resources need not be Earthbound. We have it within us to mess up the whole cosmos! And having the ability, don't we have the responsibility?

"Search for Near-Earth Asteroids Needs a Speed Boost," www.yahoo.com, February 5, 2013.

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