What if there were a 95% chance a comet would collide with earth in 30 years?
How would journalists report on an imminent comet collision?
That’s the question asked by philosopher Tim Dean at The Conversation on the eve of the latest IPCC Physical Science Basis report, The IPCC says “It is extremely likely (i.e. 95% confidence) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” Here’s Dean’s scenario:
Breaking news: scientists have discovered a comet that will collide with Earth in 30 years. Its impact will be devastating, killing millions, flooding coastal cities and disrupting civilisation as we know it.
Models predict the impact will cost the global economy at least US$4.8 trillion every year and maybe much more. This is around 5% of our global GDP, or more than three times Australia’s total GDP. Economists say the impact would trigger a massive global recession.
The announcement came from leading scientists working as a part of a United Nations team formed to assess just such an eventuality. They agree the probability of impact is 95%.
Preventing the impact will cost around US$1.7 trillion per year if the world acts immediately, with the cost rising with each year of inaction.
It certainly makes you think about the media coverage over the last few days. Doesn’t it?
Comet McNaught photo by John Wang on flickr.