Date: 01 March 1999 21:50



On Wednesday 3rd March 1999 there will be an adjournment debate in the House of Commons, in the name of Lembit Öpik MP (LibDem, Montgomeryshire) on the threat posed to our civilisation by asteroid collisions with the Earth.

A press conference will be held in Room W2 at the House of Commons at 12:00 Wednesday 3rd March.  The panel will be Mr. Öpik, Prof. Mark Bailey, Director of the Armagh Observatory, Dr. Monica Grady, Curator of Meteorites at the Natural History Museum and Jonathan Tate, Director of Spaceguard UK.

Commenting in advance of the press conference, Mr. Tate said:

"The scenarios depicted in Deep Impact and Armageddon will happen: it is a statistical certainty.  The only question is when.  The chance that you will be killed by asteroid impact is twice as high as the chance you'll meet your end in a plane crash."

Prof. Bailey added:  "Major cosmic impacts don't occur very often, but when they do they have the potential to kill millions, if not billions of people worse than a global nuclear war".

This is the hazard that is most likely to end civilisation as we know it.

Mr. Tate added:  "Those mentioning asteroid impacts struggle to be listened to: the whole subject suffers from a substantial giggle factor.  However, it's now technically possible to avoid, or at least mitigate, the effects of impacts. This is why it is so important for the subject to be discussed now."

Lembit Öpik MP will be calling in the debate for a concerted effort by the Government to plan UK involvement in measures to tackle this threat.  He will be calling for more funding for those who study the threat, such as Armagh Observatory and Spaceguard UK.



Jonathan Tate

Cygnus Lodge,
High Street, Figheldean,
Wiltshire    SP4 8JT

Tel:  (Home) 01980 671380
(Work)  01980 675279
(Mobile)  0780 331 9108
(Fax)  01980 671381


See also:
Parliamentary Debate - A Report

Presentation to the Parliamentary Astronomy and Space Environment Group

Last Revised: 18th May 1999
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