There’s been a lot of discussion among reinsurance professionals over what size of event is needed to turn the soft market into a hard market. Many believe that there is now so much capital in the market that even another Katrina could not turn the underwriting cycle.
But how about a 40m wide asteroid slamming into the atmosphere above London? Scientists meeting today around the world for World Asteroid Day believe that such a scenario is possible – and that not enough is being done by governments to find and track potentially dangerous asteroids.
June 30 was chosen to mark Asteroid Day because it is the anniversary of an asteroid strike in 1908 when a lump of space rock entered the atmosphere over Tunguska in Siberia at about 33,500 mph. The rock exploded mid-air and released the equivalent energy of a large hydrogen bomb, destroying 2,000 sq km of forest.
If an asteroid of the same size exploded over London, for example, the blast would decimate most of the UK capital (taking the London market with it).
Lord Rees, the astronomer royal, and Brian May, from the rock group Queen, are among the signatories to the 100X declaration, which calls for more action to identify potentially dangerous asteroids. Other signatories including Peter Gabriel, Richard Dawkins, Brian Cox and Eileen Collins, the first female commander of Nasa’s space shuttle.
“They are clearly a threat and for the first time it is possible for us to do something to reduce that threat,” Lord Rees told the Guardian newspaper. “It is now feasible to do a survey of all the potentially Earth-crossing asteroids above 50m in diameter, and objects like that impact Earth about once per century. One could then check their orbits to see if any are on a collision course with Earth and within 20-30 years have technology to divert any that are on course.”
“The more we learn about asteroid impacts, the clearer it becomes that the human race has been living on borrowed time,” Brian May said in a statement. “Asteroid Day and the 100X Declaration are ways for the public to contribute to bring about an awareness that we can get hit anytime. A city could be wiped out anytime because we just don’t know enough about what's out there.”
Additional information on Asteroid Day, the 100x Asteroid Declaration, as well as photos and video and live webcasts are available at www.asteroidday.org and Change.org