Every time we turn around, there’s another threat to humanity. Let’s get up to date with a new instalment of: What’s Killing Us Now?
Planet Nine. Have you heard about this thing? Turns out there’s another planet lurking on the fringes on our solar system—a body 10 times larger than Earth! How can we not already have known this? You’ll pay for this, science.
As for the risk posed by Planet Nine, let’s leave it to the subdued British tabloid the Sun, which ran the measured headline: “Mysterious planet wiped out life on Earth once and could do it again THIS MONTH.” How? By triggering “comet showers” that will “bomb the Earth’s surface, killing all life.” Terrific. I just spent last weekend raking the yard.
Climate change. But not for the reasons you think! Apparently, the melting ice caps are affecting how our planet tilts on its axis. A new NASA report found that 275 trillion lb. of ice is being lost at West Antarctica each year, while East Antarctica gains 165 trillion pounds of ice. The result? “The Earth is starting to wobble further toward Canada.” So now we’re the unstable problem planet of the solar system? Look, Earth’s all liquored up again. It’s your turn to deal with this, Mercury.
Scientists say there’s no immediate threat, but I say within two weeks, Bernie Sanders will be filing suit against Big Iceberg and calling on all Americans to gather in Florida and hop up and down to fight global wobbling.
Solar flares. Scientists are warning that a super-flare from the sun could cause “widespread devastation”—destroying satellites, damaging the ozone layer and quite possibly knocking out Netflix, leading to unprecedented worldwide chaos triggered by millions of couples saying, “I don’t know, what do you want to do?”
Curious aliens. Let’s face it: Our planet would look pretty tempting to a passing armada of extraterrestrial warships. Abundant resources. A varied climate. One anus per occupant. That’s why astronomers from Columbia University have been brainstorming a way to hide Earth from alien eyes. Their solution? Blasting out a “huge shining laser” that masks our planet’s transit across the sun. This would apparently make us almost impossible to spot—like a cloaked Romulan ship in Star Trek or Ann Wilson in those Heart videos once she got heavy and started singing behind furniture.
Killer asteroids. NASA continues to discover more and more near-Earth objects. And the debate continues over the best way to confront an incoming death boulder: Should we try to deflect it? Are we better off attempting to blow it up? And how exactly will our efforts comically backfire, destroying the very planet we are trying to save?
Scientists at a Siberian university are developing a plan to use supercomputers to obliterate asteroids as they move away from our planet—rather than give them the chance to come back around in their orbit. As one researcher put it: “Since the nuclear missile will strike from behind, practically all the fragments will fly away from the Earth.”
“Practically” is a weird word for a scientist to use, isn’t it? Guys, I’m going to fire this machine gun but don’t worry—practically none of the bullets will hit you. The question humanity must ask itself is, “Are we ready to trust our existence to Russian ‘supercomputers?’ ” There’s roughly an 80 per cent likelihood that Putin’s outer space strategic initiative is a guy playing Asteroids on a Commodore 64.
Closer to home, the U.S. government has established a Planetary Defense Coordination Office, through which dozens of bureaucratic agencies will band together to stop asteroids with red tape and a prickly attitude. On the upside, there is now a government job that has the title: planetary defense officer. Can you imagine the LinkedIn notifications this guy gets? Your connection President Obama has endorsed you for Meteor Exploding!
Robot babes. The robot uprising draws nearer: China is now competing with Japan to produce the world’s most lifelike lady-bots. The latest model—called Jia Jia—can reportedly move both arms, make different facial expressions and show interest in human conversations, so she’s already one up on me. The next goal is to give her the capability to laugh and cry, presumably while removing your pancreas with salad tongs.