Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Depending on their size, asteroids with the potential to collide with planet Earth could pose a global catastrophic risk or even an existential risk.
In The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity, Toby Ord offers several policy and research recommendations for handling risks from asteroids and comets:
- Research the deflection of 1 km+ asteroids and comets, perhaps restricted to methods that couldn’t be weaponized such as those that don’t lead to accurate changes in trajectory.
- Bring short-period comets into the same risk framework as near-Earth asteroids.
- Improve our understanding of the risks from long-period comets.
- Improve our modeling of impact winter scenarios, especially for 1–10 km asteroids. Work with experts in climate modeling and nuclear winter modeling to see what modern models say.