by Laura Knight-Jadczyk
07 January 2008
Having recently written a review of
New Light on the Black Death:
The Cosmic Connection by dendrochronologist Mike Baillie of Queen's
University, Belfast, Ireland, I decided to go deeper into the
Over the past few weeks a whole case of books I ordered
have been arriving and getting piled on my desk after a quick
thumb-through... so much to do, so little time.
In the meantime, a friend of mine (who is a climate scientist at a
major U.S. research facility) turned me on to an interesting find, a
paper addressed to the European Office of Aerospace Research and
development, dated June 4, 1996, entitled: The Hazard to
Civilization from Fireballs and Comets by S.V.M. Clube. (For the
uninitiated, Clube is an astrophysicist at the University of
In this short (4 pages) letter and summary statement, Clube writes
(emphases in the original, make of them what you will):
Asteroids which pass close to the Earth have been fully recognized
by mankind for only about 20 years. Previously, the idea that
substantial unobserved objects might be close enough to be a
potential hazard to the Earth was treated with as much derision as
the unobserved aether.
Scientists of course are in business to
establish broad principles (e.g. relativity) and the Earth's
supposedly uneventful, uniformitarian environment was already very
much in place. The result was that scientists who paid more than lip
service to objects close enough to encounter the Earth did so in an
atmosphere of barely disguised contempt.
Even now, it is difficult
for laymen to appreciate the enormity of the intellectual blow with
which most of the Body Scientific has recently been struck and from
which it is now seeking to recover.
I stopped right there and asked myself: Hmmm... just what
intellectual blow is he talking about here?
After a bit of thought,
it occurred to me that he must be talking about the Comet
Shoemaker-Levy fragment impacts on Jupiter which produced a huge
amount of excitement at the time which was just two years before the
date of this letter.
To return to Clube's report, he continues:
The present report, then, is concerned with those other celestial
bodies recorded by mankind since the dawn of civilization which
either miss or impinge upon the Earth and which have also been
despised. Now known respectively as comets (>1 kilometer in size)
and meteoroids (<10>).
That he immediately switched from asteroids to comets seems to
confirm my speculation that he was talking about Shoemaker-Levy. But
it gets more interesting:
Confronted on many occasions in the past by the prospect of
world-end, national elites have often found themselves having to
suppress public panic - only to discover, too late, that the usual
means of control commonly fail.
Thus an institutionalized science is
expected to withhold knowledge of the threat; a self-regulated press
is expected to make light of any disaster; while an
institutionalized religion is expected to oppose predestination and
to secure such general belief in a fundamentally benevolent deity as
can be mustered. [...]
(B) The present report based on the above grant addresses a variety
of issues within the broad context of the hazard to civilization due
to fireballs and comets. It consists of:
(1) A brief statement of conclusions arising from a narrative report
(2) A narrative report (with appendix) linking the results of three
scientific studies described in papers submitted to mainstream
journals (3 copies)
(3) The relevant papers detailing the results which arise through
the granted funds due to (a) Clube; (b) Clube & Napier; and (c)
Clube, Holye, Napier & Wickramasinghe (3 copies; and
(4) A co-authored foundation paper by Asher & Clube detailing the
results from which items (3) and (2) progressed.
It is emphasized here that the present report expresses a viewpoint
which is contrary to the mainstream scientific theme currently
reinforced through various US agencies in the wake of recent major
findings under US leadership...
Despite the importance of this mainstream theme, it is recognized
here that the cometary signatures in the terrestrial record are
generally stronger than the asteroidal signatures in the case of
both long term and short term effects i.e. those affecting
biological and geological evolution on the one hand and mankind and
civilization on the other..[...]
There are fundamental paradoxes to be assimilated as a result of
this unexpected situation.
Thus the perceived culture of enterprise
and enlightenment which underpins the two centuries culminating with
the Space Age and which led mankind to spurn comets and fireballs
may now be seen as the prelude to a profound paradigm shift: the
restoration of an environmental outlook more in keeping with that
which preceded American Independence and which paid serious heed to
comets and fireballs.
Clube then thanks the USAF for "its generous and timely injection of
funds" and we note that the letter was cc'd to, among others,
Teller at the Hoover Institute
S. Fred Singer at Fairfax VA
Jack A. Goldstone, Davis, CA
The summary of conclusions accompanying this letter is equally
interesting, but that will have to wait for tomorrow. If you can't
wait, you can read a pdf here:
The Hazard to Civilization from
Fireballs and Comets.
I should add that, yes, I obtained the whole report and the papers
it refers to (and more besides).
The report makes one startling
remark that I'm going to drop just to whet your appetite:
...the Christian, Islamic and Judaic
cultures have all moved since the European Renaissance to adopt
an unreasoning anti-apocalyptic stance, apparently unaware of
the burgeoning science of catastrophes.
History, it now seems, is repeating
itself: it has taken the Space Age to revive the Platonist voice
of reason but it emerges this time within a modern
anti-fundamentalist, anti-apocalyptic tradition over which
governments may, as before, be unable to exercise control...
Cynics (or modern sophists), in
other words, would say that we do not need the celestial threat
to disguise Cold War intentions; rather we need the Cold War to
disguise celestial intentions!
Just think about what this might mean, considering when it was
written and all that has happened since. One might think the
Terror was actually a planned cover-up...
With that happy thought, have a look at this:
Majesterium and the
Makes one wonder where the REAL hazard to civilization is coming
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