The Tusk works mightily to avoid speculating about future cosmic impacts at the expense of reporting evidence for such events in the human past, but recent news intervenes once more. Tomorrow the wires will hopefully buzz with the B612 Foundation‘s presentation of sophisticated and occasionally secret nuclear blast detection data revealing that cosmic impacts are far more common than prevailing “models” conclude — 3 to 10 times more common.
I am of two hands here. On the one hand I appreciate the work of the B612 Foundation and hope the new data inspires public interest in their proposed Sentinel Mission. On the other hand it is frustrating to see B612 reveal the underestimation of future risk while ignoring peer-reviewed literature suggesting a similar underestimate is made of impacts in ancient human times.
Ed Lu, Rusty Schweickert and the B612 crowd are to me the boys who cry “wolf” while neglecting to point out the gnawed remains of earlier Canis attack.
Typical of people who propound on the degree of future threat while denying or ignoring published research of past events is impact guru Dr. Alan Harris. Harris, in whom earthlings place great trust, is entirely dismissive of Younger Dryas Boundary research. His presentation below, which I have meant to post for years, is typical:
In his defense, Harris is elderly, and keeping up with modern discoveries is difficult for that cohort. But that is no excuse for his misrepresentation of the YDB theory. In the 2010 presentation he refers only to the speculative and popular 2005 book by Firestone — while ignoring the peer-reviewed research by 27 scientists in 2007 and dozens more independent scientists in subsequent journal articles.
Yes, to the dismay of his co-authors, Rick Firestone (alone) is partial to a “supernova,” as reported by Harris in Slide 25. And Rick indeed penned a chapter on the subject in his book. But Harris is also aware that not a single published paper or statement from the sixty plus additional authors supporting an ice age impact claims a “supernova” as the cause. Harris 1, Strawman 0.
Further, his reference to Bill Napier’s “beloved”Taurids [Slide 26] is a condescending, unprofessional remark that reveals the animus Harris and his clique reserve for certain researchers, particularly those who suggest what the clique themselves claim might happen tomorrow — actually happened within the last 13,000 years. I could go on and on, for instance David Morrison and Clark Chapman (of B612!) share Harris’ willful ignorance. I just don’t have the stomach for other characters now.
So. Back to B612. There are two ways to obtain the data for impact estimates: Extrapolation of past events and identification of future threats. B612 is using an instant of the former to justify hundreds of years of the latter. If the Foundation were to comprehensively attack the problem of calibrating impact threat they would call for a concurrent investigation of past impacts — well beyond the 11 years the new data provides — to compliment their spacecraft plans.
Such a study would concentrate on geochemical and nano-material analysis of well-dated Holocene samples. For less than $1 million — a pittance compared to the $250 million required for their future-detecting Sentinel — soils and ice could be deliberately analyzed across the recent geological past to identify or refute anomalies published by Firestone, Courty, Mahaney, Andronikov, Paetev, Sharma, Ballard and others since 2007 — they could even vindicate Plato.
The failure of B612 to approach the study of the past with the gimlet eye they reserve for the future is as conspicuous to the Tusk as the shortcomings they will reveal tomorrow.