In the gravity tractor post, there seemed to be some misconception that there is One True Way to accomplish a given goal. I think this is a mistake. We need as many different options as we can get if this comes to pass. Not to build all of them in the hopes that one of them will work, but to understand as many possibilities as we reasonably can. Under real threat, it is amazing what an individual or nation can get done.
Nukes are the favored response by many, and properly so in my opinion. Unfortunately there are people that would rather the planet die (Or at least humanity) than allow such nasty things to be used. Some would go so far as to say that a dinokiller on the way would be the will of God and that we should accept his will. We cannot ignore either of those viewpoints entirely or many others that don’t share our desire to live and prosper from now on. We also don’t have to let them dictate our options, and possibly demise. The first set of tools in the toolbox must include as many useful methods as possible for dealing with people, politicians, and organizations that would prevent even the attempt to save our civilization, however flawed.
Another type that must be dealt with are the ones that will hold the whole planet hostage to their agenda. Think of how many times some apparently worthy bill in congress has had so much pork and so many riders on it as to reverse the original intent. Now multiply that by every special interest world wide that has any capability of hurting an effort at planetary rescue. It shouldn’t be hard to imagine a terrorist/freedom fighter with ASAT capabilities demanding religious freedom for the cannibal society of Northern Muckistan or the orbiting depot gets hit. Unfortunately, any critical mission to save the planet will have to have layers of defenses against people that would take us all hostage to their agenda, or even want to stop even the attempt.
Others will believe it is a manufactured crisis to take resources from their pet projects. With the layers of disinformation in the world as it is now, fully answering those groups is nearly impossible. Look at the financial mess of most of the nations in the world today for an understanding of the reluctance of leaders to tackle the core issues that are a cancer to their own people.
The tools to handle the people are the most critical to the eventual success of any planetary defense. They are also the ones I have no grasp on except to know that they must be available for the possible emergency. I do know that they cannot be safely ignored.
The technical side is sooo much easier and fun. We can consider all kinds of ways to deal with dinokillers and city busters without mental heartburn. We can discuss nukes and gravity tractors. Argue ion engines and solar sails. Debate nuclear thermal engines for getting there vs depots for chemical rockets vs microwave powered ion drives until we can’t stay awake any longer without losing any sleep over the winners or losers. How to attach or even if we should have a physical attachment. The comment in the last post about there possibly only being time for one probe when I think we would find the time and launchers for instance can be debated now when we are not under threat.
Let us add to the toolbox as much as we can so that if the mechanic needs to go to
Dinokiller Humanitykiller One, it is just a matter of grabbing the right wrench. The right time to buy a repair kit is not when you are stranded a days walk from civilization, but rather when you are packing for the trip.