SWF: Mis-communicating about Asteroid Threat is a Threat Itself

SWF: Mis-communicating about Asteroid Threat is a Threat Itself

The Secure World Foundation (SWF) released a report yesterday warning that the dangers of mis-communicating about the threat from an asteroid can be as much a threat as the asteroid itself.

SWF and the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) held a workshop in November 2011 about the need to communicate effectively with the public about risks posed by asteroids.  The workshop was held to support the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOUS) Action Team-14 (AT-14) that focuses on Near Earth Objects (NEOs).  AT-14 is deliberating over the potential composition of an Information, Analysis and Warning Network (IAWN) that includes developing international procedures to respond to a NEO threat according to the workshop report.

SWF Executive Director Michael Simpson said in a press statement that while attention is usually focused on the damage an asteroid impact with Earth could cause, this report focuses “on how to prevent the even greater damage we could cause ourselves by mis-communicating or failing to work together on a common response to the threat.”  Ray Williamson, SWF Senior Advisor and former Executive Director, said the report “emphasizes how important clear, effective, and accurate assessments” of the threat would be “to the ultimate goal of protecting human life and property.”

The report issued a “call to action” with the following elements:

  • The development of an effective NEO communication plan;
  • A coordinated program of education targeting general public, policy makers, students and media;
  • Skilled communicators supported by risk analysts, planners, scientists, psychologists, emergency management experts and other functional experts; and
  • Access to research data and real-time NEO information.



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