DPS Meeting, Madison, October 1998
Session 7P. Asteroid Observations II
Contributed Poster Session, Tuesday, October 13, 1998, 4:15-5:20pm, Hall of Ideas

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[7P.16] The Impact Hazard in the Context of Other Natural Hazards and Predictive Science

C. R. Chapman (SwRI)

The hazard due to impact of asteroids and comets has been recognized as analogous, in some ways, to other infrequent but consequential natural hazards (e.g. floods and earthquakes). Yet, until recently, astronomers and space agencies have felt no need to do what their colleagues and analogous agencies must do in order the assess, quantify, and communicate predictions to those with a practical interest in the predictions (e.g. public officials who must assess the threats, prepare for mitigation, etc.). Recent heightened public interest in the impact hazard, combined with increasing numbers of "near misses" (certain to increase as Spaceguard is implemented) requires that astronomers accept the responsibility to place their predictions and assessments in terms that may be appropriately considered. I will report on preliminary results of a multi-year GSA/NCAR study of "Prediction in the Earth Sciences: Use and Misuse in Policy Making" in which I have represented the impact hazard, while others have treated earthquakes, floods, weather, global climate change, nuclear waste disposal, acid rain, etc. The impact hazard presents an end-member example of a natural hazard, helping those dealing with more prosaic issues to learn from an extreme. On the other hand, I bring to the astronomical community some lessons long adopted in other cases: the need to understand the policy purposes of impact predictions, the need to assess potential societal impacts, the requirements to very carefully assess prediction uncertainties, considerations of potential public uses of the predictions, awareness of ethical considerations (e.g. conflicts of interest) that affect predictions and acceptance of predictions, awareness of appropriate means for publicly communicating predictions, and considerations of the international context (especially for a hazard that knows no national boundaries).

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.boulder.swri.edu/clark/ncar.html. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: cchapman@boulder.swri.edu

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