Introduction

You wouldn't see the asteroid, even though it was several miles in diameter, because it would be hurtling toward you at 15 to 25 miles a second. At that speed, the column of air between the asteroid and the earth's surface would be compressed with such force that the column's temperature would soar to several times that of the sun, incinerating everything in its path. When the asteroid struck, it would penetrate deep into the ground and explode, creating an enormous crater and ejecting burning...

What are the catastrophic risks and how catastrophic are they

The number of extreme catastrophes that have a more than negligible probability of occurring in this century is alarmingly great, and their variety startling. I want to describe them and in doing so make clear the importance of understanding what science is doing and can do and where it is leading us. I begin with the natural catastrophes and move from there to the man-made ones, which I divide into three groups scientific accidents, other unintended man-made catastrophes, and intentional...