The last time an asteroid hit the Earth was some 66 million years ago. Given the way 2020 keeps going – it wouldn’t be a surprise if something happened to barrel into us. It’d just be another bullet point on the list of things to go wrong this year.
Especially since the last impact caused a mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs. Too bad we’ll never know a world where dinosaurs roamed the planet freely.
So, let’s take a look at what could actually happen if an asteroid hit the Earth today.
First, it’d get insanely windy.
In 2017, a group of UK scientists ran 50,000 computer-simulations of asteroid impacts all around different parts of the world. The study found that the biggest threat to human civilization – besides the actual impact – was the wind that followed it. When a massive object is hurdling towards the Earth, it causes a serious shock to the air in our atmosphere. Even without an impact, the effects are pretty severe. Asteroids that disintegrate in mid-air, like the 2013 Chelyabinsk event, can cause significant change.
Researchers who studied the event remarked:
“Most of the damage and injuries…were caused by the aerodynamic shock that knocked people to the ground and damaged structures and windows, causing indirect injuries by flying glass shards.”
Yeah, that’s right… most of the damage. That’s some serious wind!
Next, we’d have to worry about thermal radiation…
When asteroids impact larger bodies, they release a ton of energy. With that energy comes a lot of heat – so we’d have to deal with a serious amount of fires in the aftermath.
After that… the impact would cause a seismic shift. Since the ocean makes up more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, it’s likely that an asteroid would landing in the Atlantic or the Pacific.
This would cause an earthquake, which would then lead to a tsunami.
UK researchers found that – out of 50,000 simulations – tsunamis accounted for the greatest loss of life.
Eventually, a speculative asteroid impact causes more severe long term effects. Such problems include flattened buildings, degradation of the planet’s entire climate, and widespread crop loss. That sounds like pretty bad news.
It would take an asteroid the size of the one that wiped out the dinosaurs to destroy life on Earth as we know it. If that were to happen, we’d basically be enveloped in a sheet of darkness for several years. That is, if we even survived the initial impact. As cool as that might seem in movies and TV, it’s definitely not how I want real life to go.
Maybe I should invest in a bunker. Like, that sounds like a pretty solid idea.
What would you do if an asteroid actually hit the Earth?
Let us know your doomsday plan in the comments below.