A Choice of Catastrophes

Civil Defense Perspectives January 2015 Volume 31 No. 2

All the calls for people to work to “Save the Planet” suggest that the Planet could have eternal life if only we banished the demon carbon dioxide to the nether regions of Earth. But of course the Planet had a beginning, and it will have an end. For perspective it is worth reviewing the late Isaac Asimov’s 1979 book A Choice of Catastrophes: the Disasters That Threaten Our World.

The heat death of the entire universe would seem to be an inevitable, inexorable end to everything not already destroyed.  The Earth could be rendered uninhabitable by collision with an asteroid, or by changes in the sun as it became a red giant and eventually a white dwarf. But on a smaller than astronomic scale, the force with the greatest likely impact is climate.  There have always been droughts, and floods, and storms, but could the Earth become a planetary Sahara or a planetary Greenland? The popular press in the 1970s was filled with threats of global cooling, which were endorsed by all major scientific organizations (http://tinyurl.com/q7pkmp4). Continue reading