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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Happy Space Junk Apocalypsemas

SO the Mayan apocalypse didn’t happen then – unless you’re reading this on a crumpled bit of yellowing paper in a bunker some time in 2014.

EM Peter Grenville column
Peter Grenville

In which case; Blimey! They were right after all. Who’d have guessed?

It seemed fairly certain it wouldn’t happen of course. Why would you trust the predictions of a race who aren’t around any more? They clearly weren’t all that great at spotting the future, were they?

But whilst you’re in that eggnog-poisoning recovery stage, and the cat recuperates from the incident with using the fairy-lights-covered Christmas tree as a posh indoor loo, instead of going outside in the rain, I’ve got some more bad news. There’s a space junk apocalypse on the way.

We’re now so dependent on all the satellites orbiting our moist planet, it seems unlikely we’d know how to cope without them.

Don’t believe me? Have a think about it – your TV, radio and internet probably get beamed about the planet via them. Your prat-nav relies on them. Your mobile does too.

And it’s not just at a personal level. Train systems, road haulage, and even your fridge rely on them.

Ok, I might have made the last one up, but it got you thinking, didn’t it? And here’s the worrying bit – the whole lot could get smashed to smithereens any time soon.

We’ve already bunged so many of them up into orbit that it’s starting to look like the car park at Asda on a Saturday morning, but with less screaming children and people parking 4X4s badly. And in space. So pretty much identical, then.

There’s loads of other stuff up there too – old booster rockets, random screws and bits that fell off spaceships, and even spaceman poo. And they’re all travelling very, very fast.

If one of those bumps into a satellite, it’ll smash it into a million bits. That’s another million, speedy, missiles heading towards more precious satellites. The cascade effect could wipe out our space network alarmingly fast.

So whilst you try and figure out what to do with the 4lbs of turkey you’ve still got left, consider this: How fast would we descend into chaos? Clogged motorways, trains at a standstill... OK, no change there then. But no TV? Radio? Internet? And you wouldn’t be able to send a picture of a kitten to your friend with “LOL cuuuute!” appended to it, as your phone would be useless too. No twitter. No facetubebooks.

Whilst society crumbled (the teenagers would be unable to function after five minutes), the rot would move up the age chain, until it reached the over 60s... who’d probably be fine, but a bit bemused as to why there was so much screaming, running around, panicking and a sudden occurrence of people actually talking to each other, instead of looking at tiny screens.

Check your phone – still got a signal? No? Uh-oh...

Happy New Year!

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