The Survival Imperative: Using Space to Protect Earth

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Macmillan, Jul 10, 2007 - Science - 320 pages
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Using Space to Save Earth
 
Veteran science journalist William E Burrows offers a bold new mission for the U.S. space program: to protect the Earth from the ever-growing number of perils that threaten our way of life--and even our very survival.
 
We are living through one of the most dangerous times in human history. Nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons technology are proliferating, and missile technology is falling into more and more hands. Extreme natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, fires, and earthquakes, are becoming increasingly costly -- not only in dollars, but in lives -- as population expands. Environmental crises threaten to provoke massive famines and widespread social collapse. Asteroids the size of battleships streak within striking distance of the earth every year.
 
One strategy offers the best hope of protecting us from all of these dangers -- a revitalized national space program that coordinates efforts in global defense, in environmental protection, in communications, and in military security. The Survival Imperative offers an impassioned argument for this bold initiative.
 
To demonstrate the urgency of his cause, Burrows presents a vivid scenario: an impact by a moderately large asteroid that triggers a series of nuclear exchanges, environmental devastation, and the slow disintegration of civilization. And he examines the existing space program from the heady days of the Moon landing through the political compromises that have characterized the history of NASA in the 35 years following our retreat from the Moon.
 
Most of all, Burrows warns that the primary obstacle to achieving a true planetary defense program is not financial or scientific, but social--an unwillingness to acknowledge the urgency of the crisis, and to take the political risks needed to address it. The question, says Burrows, is not whether we can do it, but whether we will act before it's too late.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - SylviaE - LibraryThing

In my opinion this is one of the most important books of our era. It argues that our space program, which has lacked a goal for so long, can and should be focused on the protection of Earth from ... Read full review

The survival imperative: using space to protect Earth

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Presenting a case for establishing a new direction and vision for our space program, longtime science technology reporter Burrows (journalism, NYU;By Any Means Necessary ) proposes that NASA undertake ... Read full review

Contents

Hell on Earth
15
Let There Be Light
32
Target Earth
48
The Once and Future Space Program
92
A Beehive Called Earth
133
The Ultimate FrequentFlier Program
174
A Treasure Chest on the Moon
208
The Guardians
236
An Open Letter to Congress
251
White Paper Summarizing Findings and Recommendations from the 2004 Planetary Defense Conference Protecting Earth from Asteroids
264
Notes
279
Sources
295
Acknowledgments
305
Index
307
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

William E. Burrows is a professor of journalism at New York University and the founder and director of its graduate Science and Environmental Reporting Program. He has reported for publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, and Smithsonian Air & Space. He is the author of seven books on aviation, space, and defense, including This New Ocean and Deep Black, the award-winning classic work on spying from space.

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