According to Seattle’s local CBS broadcasting affiliate, NASA has projected that a 60 meter asteroid will pass within 16,500 miles of Earth on February 13, 2013. Their scary-sensational Chicken Little treatment: “Should We Be Afraid? Should we? Should we?”
To put this in perspective, the earth’s diameter is about 8000 miles. This is like saying “Next year a tiny little toy truck is going to go down the street in front of your house! Should you be afraid? Should you?
Put another way, the asteroid will fly well within the Moon’s 240,000 mile orbit.
What is the chance of the asteroid striking earth? Well, practically speaking – none. But this sort of scare-mongering has become a staple of all kinds of (formerly) legitimate news outlets. Sure, our perceptive readers will say “Well, you’re doing it too, aren’t you?”
Perhaps. Well, no. We want people to understand the difference between the kind of “crash” that is pretty common, the kind of “crash” that is very unlikely, but very significant, and the media grandstanding that’s done because it attracts attention.
Let’s look at some examples:
1. Everyday household accidents, sports accidents, workplace accidents. Frequently the damage is minimal, and your sprained ankle heals completely. If it doesn’t heal you may need a better diet, or some physical therapy, sports therapy.
2. Severe auto accident where you are injured. You probably need to go to a hospital emergency room immediately for diagnosis. There are many injuries that, if not immediately diagnosed, you can try to convince yourself they aren’t serious. These include soft tissue injuries similar to example one above, but are much more serious because of the amount of tearing, or because there is also nerve damage or brain trauma (concussion).
3. Made-up no-risk news panic-mongering. We all know there are tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides. We all know that sometimes a hillside in Seattle will collapse and a couple homes will slide a few feet, or a hundred feet. People who build their homes on Queen Anne Hill’s mud cliffs are taking a bit of a risk, but really…. …a headline that says “Will A Tsunami Strike Seattle” or “Asteroid Headed Our Way” is just grandstanding. See story in our local CBS Broadcasting website:
There are a lot of simple steps you can take to avoid those common sports injuries and household injuries. Warm-up and stretch-out before working out. Make sure the ladder is placed against the wall at the right angle. Don’t drop the 35 lb. kettlebell on your foot.
Look both ways before crossing the street. But you don’t have to look up for an asteroid.
For more ideas about avoiding your next crash, and dealing with it if it happens, visit http://www.leonardmoen.com