From our “Economics is Everywhere” file: Reviewing 20 years of research, a panel of 41 experts concluded that the asteroid that struck Mexico (at Chicxulub–chick-shoo-loob), 65 million years ago, extinguished the dinosaur population. The impact would have been so colossal that it resulted in a global winter because of the debris catapulted into the atmosphere.
Not convinced? You could look at What Bugged the Dinosaurs: Insects, Disease, and Death in the Cretaceous from Princeton University Press for an alternative theory.
Reading about asteroids soon took me to our the FY2011 federal budget to see what we are doing now. And sure enough, I discovered that asteroid research funds increased under NASA’s budget. Among the multiple asteroid programs is one that NASA has established with Saudi Arabia.
The Economic Life
Our federal budget is dominated by defense and entitlements which include social security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending. Receiving $19 billion from a budget totaling close to $4 trillion, NASA spending is relatively small. Anyone worried about the burgeoning deficit would see that austerity for asteroid research would have little impact as would cuts in most discretionary spending.