If the Dow Jones doesn’t worry you enough…

July 25, 2002 | Science | By: Mark VandeWettering

If you are looking for mostly irrational things to worry about, you could always worry about asteroid impacts.
CNN
is running a story about a potential impact of a 2km chunk of rock on Jan 1, 2019.

Undoubtably as the orbital elements for this little chuck of interstellar debris are determined more accurately, the threat will vanish. Still, in reading the article, I encountered the statement that

NASA’s Near Earth Object program gives the asteroid a rating of “0” on the Torino impact hazard scale ? within a range of “events meriting careful monitoring,” but not concern.

Which of course led me to ask, what is the Torino scale, and what does a zero
mean?

CNN thoughtfully provided a link to the a crappy JPEG which
gave the following information.

Events Having No Likely Consequences 0 The likelihood of a collision is zero, or well below the chance
of a random object of the same size will strike the earth within
the next few decades. This designation also applies to any small
object that, in the event of a collision, is unlikely to reach the Earth’s surface intact.
Events Meriting Careful Monitoring 1 The chance of collision is extremely unlikely, about the same as a random object of the same size striking the Earth within the next few decades.
Events Meriting Concern 2 A somewhat close, but not unusual encounter. Collision is very unlikely.
3 A close encounter with 1% or greater chance of a collision capable of causing localized destruction.
4 A close encounter with 1% or greater chance of a collision capable of causing regional devastation.
Threatening Events 5 A close encounter with a significant threat of a collision causing regional devastation.
6 A close encounter with a significant threat of a collision capable of causing a global catastrophe.
7 A close encounter with an extremely significant threat of a collision capable of causing a global catastrophe.
Certain Collisions 8 A collision capable of causing localized destruction. Such events occur somwhere on earth between once per 50 years and once per 1000 years.
9 A collision capable of causing regional devastation. Such events occur between once per 1000 years and once per 100,000 years.
10 A collision capable of causing a global climatic catastrophe. Such events occur once per 100,000 years, or less often.

Doesn’t this remind you of the

terrorist threat scale

established by our Department of Homeland Security?
Does it make you sleep better at night knowing that somebody has drawn up these scales?

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