Of scary space-rocks, climate change … and a poll

A few years ago, I had commented on the fact that in 2010 the United Nations (in perhaps yet another of its many endeavours to deflect attention from its abysmal failure in meeting its original mandate) took the progressive (and “precautionary”, no doubt) step of appointing a “space ambassador to greet alien visitors”.

Contemporaneous news reports had indicated that, Mazlan Othman, the ambassador was the head of “UN’s little known Office for Outer Space Affairs” [UNOOSA].

At the time, it did not occur to me that there would be any connection between UNOOSA and climate change. How wrong I was – as I learned today! Evidently, according to Discovery.com [Edit: h/t Anne Bayefsky via twitter]:

United Nations to Spearhead Asteroid Deflection Plan

The U.N. is currently in the early stages of setting up an “International Asteroid Warning Group” so that member nations can share data about hazardous space rocks and coordinate an interception plan should a scary space rock be identified, according to Scientific American. The U.N.’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will coordinate the mission, in an effort to prevent the asteroid from putting a dent in our planet.

I wondered where in the UN maze one might find “The U.N.’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space”; my search took me to UNOOSA, where I also found:


Don’t have time at the moment to see if UNOOSA has a seat at the table of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – or whether ambassador Othman is or has been a participant in the deliberations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); but someone in the organization certainly has a firm grasp of at least some of the requisite jargon <word-salad alert>:

Taking into consideration the consequences of deforestation, desertification, land degradation, depletion of the ozone layer, acid rain, and a reduction in biodiversity on climate change, UNISPACE III recognized the role of international space law, as developed by COPUOS, in providing the framework for international cooperation in targeting environmental monitoring and disaster management.

And here are some examples of their forward-thinking agenda:

UNOOSA undertakes steps to enhance cooperation with UNFCCC, GCOS, and other United Nations agencies involved to identify elements where the Office could provide substantive leadership or support taking into consideration its strengths and current mandates and efforts.

  • Participate in the development of adoption of international standards concerning the measurement of the Essential Climate Variables (ECV) when using space-based instruments and promoting the establishment and operation of a global repository of satellite-based data to ensure access to such data by all Parties.
  • Facilitating capacity-building activities in the collection of, access to, and use of satellite-based data and information to support sustainable development in the context of climate change. [emphasis added -hro]

Who will be the first to declare that climate change could increase the severity and incidence of asteroids landing on our fragile planet, so we “must have a carbon tax, now”?! WWF? Greenpeace? UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon? UNFCCC head honcho, Christiana <I am committed to climate change> Figueres? IPCC chair, Rajendra <Hell no, I won’t go> Pachauri? Or … someone else .. a mystery “climate modeller” perhaps?!

Hey, let’s have a poll, eh?;-)

6 thoughts on “Of scary space-rocks, climate change … and a poll

  1. Here’s how I think the reasoning might work – our bingeing on fossil fuels and addiction to unabated capitalism sends out negative vibes into the cosmos.

    Sympathetic aliens, meanwhile, sense the pain of Gaia and nudge an asteroid into a path where it impacts on Earth, in order to bring about the destruction of human civilisation but also to let nature then bounce back and recover, until the Earth is clean, green and free once more of human karmic unpleasantness.

    Roland Emmerich, I hope you’re taking notes. :)

    • Alex,

      As you may (or may not!) recall, I’m not a SciFi (or CliFi) fan. So, Emmerich rang only a vaguely familiar bell with me, until I looked him up – and now I know that he’s the Day After Tomorrow guy!

      What first sprang to my mind (even though I knew it was not correct!) was the Emmottica™ that you and Geoff have documented so assiduously!

      But that aside, your … uh … scenario is soooooo scary … it’s almost believable … Well, certainly more believable than anything that the UNEP’s Achim Steiner and his stable of scare-generating underlings have ever dreamed up;-)

  2. Who needs asteroids to destroy humanity? The aliens are powerful enough to do it by themselves, according to The Guardian:

    “Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilisations, say scientists
    Rising greenhouse emissions may tip off aliens that we are a rapidly expanding threat, warns a report for Nasa

    Ian Sample, science correspondent
    guardian.co.uk, Thursday 18 August 2011 19.04 BST

    When they see what a mess we’ve made of our planet, aliens may be forced to take drastic action.
    It may not rank as the most compelling reason to curb greenhouse gases, but reducing our emissions might just save humanity from a pre-emptive alien attack, scientists claim.”


    Can it possibly get any sillier than this? (there’s 700 words more of hilarious fantasy in this article).

    The NASA report is entitled: Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis

    • Can it possibly get any sillier than this? (there’s 700 words more of hilarious fantasy in this article). [emphasis added -hro]

      Geeze, Rick … instead of taking my name in vain, couldn’t you just call it “unbelievable”? ;-)

  3. hilary Peter, post-Sandy can you please cover the emerging literary genre called CLI FI, i coined the term, and when i asked Seth Borenstein at AP if he could report it he tweeted back to me “Dan, i write about science, i don’t cover literature or books, so i will never write about
    your cockamamie cli fi genre. NEVER” so Peter, can you? interview Mary Woodbury in Canada who runs CLIFIBOOKS.com webzine that lists all cli fi novels past and present and is a leading member of the CLI FI team of which I am the PR guy. I am not a writer, just the word guy. my cli fi central blog is at http://pcillu101.blogspot.com and Foyles bookstore in UK now runs a CLI FI table with a CLI FI sign in store thanks to the rise of cli fi meme worldwide. Do a story? it’s sci fi with a difference, it’s CLIMATE FICTION with a purpose to wake up people but it can also be anti-AGW if writers want to go there, like STATE OF FEAR michael chricton RIP did in 1994. email me at danbloom At gmail

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